Though there are a number of theories regarding the origin of Karatsu ware, it is said to have begun in the late 16th century. Porcelain shipped from the port of Karatsu (in present day Saga Prefecture) spread throughout Osaka and Kyoto and became popular to such an extent that "Karatsu ware" became synonymous with "porcelain" in Western Japan. Many tea masters also cherished the use Karatsu ware in tea ceremonies for its simple, unsophisticated beauty.
As the years passed, a large variety of shaping techniques and decorating styles developed for Karatsu ware. One famous style is called E-karatsu, which was also the first porcelain in Japan to be decorated with images using a paint brush. Other styles include Chosen-Karatsu (Korean Karatsu), Madara-Karatsu (mottled Karatsu), and Kuro-Karatsu (black Karatsu).
Presently, there are around 70 kilns in Karatsu, with potters ranging from young budding ceramists to master artisans. They produce various items that include tea cups, tea bowls, plates, and vases.
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