JAPANESE BAMBOO BASKETS
Mountain Road by Tanabe Chikuunsai II
Tanabe Chikuunsai II / 二代田辺竹雲斎
11 x 11.5 x 11.5 in
27.5 x 29 x 29 cm
Original box + lacquered water container
This gorgeous basket was made at the Kaifu-nan-so (Kaifu South Studio), original studio of the esteemed Chikuunsai I. Tanbe Toshio, his eldest son, inherited Chikuunsai’s artist name (which means “bamboo cloud”) and studio in 1937. Chikuunsai II remained at this studio in Sakai City until 1944, when US bombings made it impossible to continue working and living in that area of southern Osaka.
This basket, Mountain Road, can therefore be dated to the period between 1937-1944, when Chikuunsai II was between 27 and 34 years old. It is an early work of an artist whose munificence had immeasurable impact on the field in following decades. After the war he would return to work, build the Tekisuikyo studio and accept numerous apprentices. These early works range widely but are unfailingly ambitious and expansive, describing the intentions of a young artist dedicated to inhabiting his family name and presence.
This basket is made of aged hochibiku bamboo, a variety of bamboo whose strength, color and vitality is prized by basketmakers, and which is often reclaimed from farm houses in which it aged, gathering color and depth over decades and centuries. In color, form, and feel this basket has the elevated rusticity so sought out by the aesthetes of the time, especially those compelled by the ‘way of tea’. With uneven rough open weave and a long length of worn bamboo winding around its middle, this basket is a quiet monument to rural life, age, and hard work.