Gift of Lieutenant-Colonel Kenneth Dingwall DSO through The Art Fund
ca. 1900-1910 (made)
Vase in the form of two polar bears inside an icy cave; porcelain with decoration in underglaze turquoise and brown; 'Makuzu' ware, Miyagawa Kozan, Japan, ca. 1900-1910.
Height: 22.2 cm, Diameter: 15.9 cm
Ceramics Study Galleries, Asia & Europe, room 137
Vase In The Form Of Two Polar Bears Inside An Icy Cave
Porcelain with decoration in underglaze turquoise and brown
Mark Makuzu impressed on base Yokohama, by Miyagawa Kozan (1842-1916)
Dingwall Gift 
Porcelain vase in the form of two polar bears inside an icy cave. Layers of ice and snow are suspended from the top of the vase, melting over the cave and causing small turquoise streams to flow over the brown rocks. The heads and front legs of the polar bears are visible inside the opening of the cave.
This vase was bought by its donor at the Japan-British exhibition held in London's White City in 1910. It is one of a substantial group of Japanese ceramics from this exhibition reticently accepted as a gift from Kenneth Dingwall at a time when the V&A had made a conscious decision to no longer collect modern Japanese artefacts. The Makuzu workshop was established in Yokohama, one of the main portals of trade with the West, in 1871. It initially produced Satsuma-style pottery painted in polychrome enamels and gold, but during the 1880s it focused increasingly on the making of porcelain, often in Chinese styles. In the case of this particular vase, however, and its masterful demonstration of crystalline glaze technology, it is more likely that the source of inspiration was contemporaneous works sold, at very high prices, by the Royal Copenhagen Manufactory.