The city of Karatsu on the island of Kyushu flourished as a ceramic-producing center by the end of the sixteenth century. The main products of the Karatsu kilns, which derived from Korean prototypes, were utensils for the tea ceremony. The mukozuke is a small, deep bowl used for serving side dishes in the traditional kaiseki meal that precedes the drinking of ceremonial tea.
In the Kimbell mukozuke, a beautiful example of e-karatsu (painted Karatsu), the simple underglaze designs of leafy grass and curled vines are painted in iron oxide applied prior to glazing. The rim was shaped by hand to form petals before receiving its freely painted design. The distinctive lobed shape, graceful proportions, and warm, muted color of the bowl are qualities the tea connoisseur most admired in utensils from Karatsu.