Deep in contemplation, the recumbent figure of Lao Tzu rests in quiet contemplation, the picture of serenity by Miyagawa (Makuzu) Kozan II enclosed in the original signed wooden box titled Haku-korai-I Roshi Okimono (Figure of Lao Tzu In White Korean Style). The robes are exquisitely renderedIt is 20 x 26.5 x 17 cm (8 x 10-1/2 x 7 inches) and is in excellent condition.
For an identical figure see the book Miyagawa Kozan Ten (1986) plates 175
Lao Tzu, also rendered as Laozi or Lao-Tze, was an an extraordinary thinker who flourished during the sixth century B.C.E., the founder of philosophical Taoism, and a deity in traditional Chinese religions. He is the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching commonly translated as the “Classic of the Way and Virtue.” Its influence on Chinese culture is pervasive, and it reaches beyond China. It is concerned with the Dao or “Way” and how it finds expression in “virtue”, especially through what the text calls “naturalness” and “nonaction”. Perhaps our own journey to meet him may come from one of his most famous quotes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
The name Kozan was granted by Prince Yasui-no-Miya in 1851 in honor of the tea ware produced during the later Edo for the imperial Court by the tenth-generation head of the Kyoto pottery family Miyagawa Chozo. The Kozan (Makuzu) kiln as we know it today was established in Yokohama in 1871 by the 11th generation head of the family where he reinvented the family business. He immediately set out on a journey which would propel the Kozan name to International Celebrity status, and send his wares throughout the globe. Pieces produced there were marked Kozan, or Makuzu, the official kiln name, or both. Although he had been running the daily operation since the late 19th century, the first son, Hanzan, succeeded as head of the kiln, in 1912, with the father officially retiring to spend more time on his own research and art. Kozan I dies in 1916. The kiln was run by Hanzan (1859-1940) through the early Showa era, he officially taking the name Kozan II in 1917, after one-year mourning for his father’s passing. Under Hanzan the kiln was commissioned for works to be presented to the Prince of Wales, the 25th wedding anniversary gift for the Taisho emperor and the Showa Emperors coronation gift. The unlucky third generation inherited the kiln at the height of the war years, it was completely destroyed in the bombing of Yokohama in 1945. For more on this illustrious family see Bridging East and West, Japanese Ceramics from the Kozan Studio by Kathleen Emerson-Dell.