Flower Basket with Handle by Yamamoto Shoen
Flower Basket with Handle
49.5 x 28.25 x 24 cm
Original box signed and sealed by Shoen
Original lacquered water container
Yamamoto Shoen (whose artistic name until 1929 was Yamamoto Chikuryusai, 山本竹龍斎) was a scholar of bunjin (Chinese literati) thought and practice that formed the aesthetic center of the bamboo basket culture in Osaka. Like several other bamboo artists, Shoen was also skilled in such complementary fields as Japanese painting, traditional song, and flower arrangement. He was a founding member of an association of basket artists, including Waichisai II, Chikuunsai II, and Shokosai III, who shared and promoted bamboo art as a principal field of artistic expression. The exact activities of this association are no longer known, but Shoen considered it so significant to basket culture, and this basket so emblematic of its intentions, that he inscribed the group's name on the underside of the box lid, just next to his own signature.
This basket therefore demonstrates the respect such practiced aesthetes had for original Chinese baskets, as well as their study, inhabitation and revitalization of those antique forms. The body is composed of three interlocking weaves: a first layer of compound lozenge plaiting (yotsume gaeshi), then the fine horizontal lines in pine-needle plaiting (matsuba ami), and these in turn secure the vertical lengths reminiscent of armor plaiting (yoroi gumi ) . The body is rounder than would be the Chinese versions, and handle too is nicely re-proportioned. Lovely rattan work on the body and handle, which is adorned in a herringbone pattern whose internal 'movement' accentuates the arc. The basket is discretely lacquered in a cinnabar hue. As a whole the basket feels completely faithful and authentic even as each element has been reconsidered and made more sophisticated and beautiful.