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Dancing Fan Flower Basket by Wada Waichisai III


Wada Waichisai III


Dancing Fan Flower Basket

The more one sees of Wada Waichisai's III's baskets, the more impressive a figure he becomes. Born into the field, direct descendent of the most influential Kansai-area basketmaker, and certainly known and respected by all others, he spent a lifetime in bamboo. And yet, as is so common in this field, only the outline of his life is known today. He was born into the Sakai City community of bamboo artists, working in the family studio through his youth. His early individual works were signed "Issai", a curious name. He must have assumed the Waichisai title on the death of his father in 1933.

Throughout his career Waichisai III was dedicated to traditional flower basketry, always returning for inspiration to the stories and images surrounding Japanese tea culture, as well as their counterparts from Classical China. Like his elders in the Kansai area, Waichisai III never compromised on material: as here, his baskets always utilize the highest quality aged and usually smoked bamboo. Unlike most others of his generation, he did not accommodate his art to modern mid-century lifestyles, he did not veer into bamboo sculpture, he did not apply his superlative skills to modern design. He remained entirely faithful to the essential mode through which bamboo skills were developed and conveyed through the generations: the basket and to the culture of tea in which baskets are so esteemed.

This basket is made in the form of the fans used to such dramatic effect throughout the Japanese performance arts. The fan is elegant in itself; it is also a handy prop used to punctuate or accentuate all kind of expression. It of course evokes summer. Here we see the fan in the conical form of the basket's body, which is made of beautifully smoked and supple hobichiku. The masterful smoked handle arcs elegantly above, feeling antique, organic, and yet also very contemporary. These time-traveling works are the ones we seek: their beauty transcends categories, they are as at home in the contemporary world as in the past.

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