The art of raku is attributed to Zen Buddhist Monks of the 16th century Japan and was favored for the tea bowls of the great tea masters. The Japanese symbol for Raku can be translated as "enjoyment of freedom." However, as is often the case with other cultures' philosophies, we in the West have distilled Raku to a technical process. Raku is now generally accepted to mean a method of rapid firing and cooling of ceramic ware, and names the finished product. Due to the glaze chemistry and low firing process used, Raku is not food safe or water tight, it is fragile.