The subdued quality of Karatsu wares has been much appreciated by devotees of the tea ceremony. A mizusashi is a jar with a lid used to hold fresh water for pouring into the kama (kettle) or for rinsing the tea bowls and tea whisk.
The Kimbell’s example is in the ware known as chosen-karatsu (in Korean, Karatsu), which is characterized by the bold combination of two different glazes—a white, straw-ash glaze and an iron oxide glaze that fires to a glossy dark brown—which streak and blur when they meet. Many pieces of chosen-karatsu, especially tall jars, were formed using the “patting method” (tataki)—coiling and paddling the clay vessel into shape—rather than on a wheel. The intentionally irregular contour of this jar and the incised X-shaped mark near the rim reflect the Japanese taste for pottery of a natural and often rustic authenticity, in which the direct touch of the potter’s hand is not hidden but brought to the fore and prized.