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Bamboo Sheaf Flower Basket in Thousand-line Construction by Suemura Shobun


Suemura Shobun


Bamboo Sheaf Flower Basket in Thousand-line Construction

32 x 22 x 17 cm
12.5 x 8.5 x 6.75 in
With original signed box
Original lacquered water container

Suemura Shobun was surely among the most experimental of the Kansai area bamboo artists. Steeped in the cultured world of Osaka bamboo arts, mentored by Yamamoto Shoen (1868-1945), who was one of the great scholars and artists in 20th century Japanese tea culture, Shobun nevertheless walked his own path, often making completely unconventional baskets from unsplit bent black bamboo. His baskets are bold, challenging, and relentlessly innovative.

This unusual, delicate basket reveals a new aspect of Shobun’s artistry, one that links him into the field of poetic allusion in the world of tea. This basket is constructed of finely cut lengths made from the feather-light outer skins of madake bamboo. Arranged in three groups, these are twill-plaited (sanbon tobi ajiro) together in the base, forming three overlapping leaves. The basket is formed as these finely-worked lengths rise from the base, the weave disarticulating into a thousand-line formation whose individual lengths are left open at the basket's rim.

In shape and feel this basket therefore alludes to the outer skin (or bract) that is gradually shed from each section of the living bamboo plant as it grows. In former days these bracts were also used to wrap food, especially cooked rice, for transport; the heat and moisture of the cooked rice gradually softening the bract so that it would fray on unwrapping, a characteristic indicated in this work by the individually splayed length-ends. Such fine construction, allusion to both living plant and past lifeways, and lovely shape and color make this a basket of rare delicacy.

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