JAPANESE BAMBOO BASKETS

Flower Basket by Wada Waichisai I

Wada Waichisai I / 和田和一斎
1851-1901

Flower Basket

36 x 16 x 16 cm

14.25 x 6.5 x 6.5 in

Original box signed and sealed by Waichisai
Original lacquered water container

This ovoid basket with looped handle, freely woven of richly colored smoked madake (known as susudake) is a rare work in this style by Wada Waichisai I, who straddled two eras of bamboo craft. Initially a maker of everyday utilitarian bamboo objects, Wada Waichisai I was also an artist capable of the highly ornamental and technically dazzling works desired by the Osaka ‘literati’, or bunjin, who esteemed Chinese tastes in steeped tea and its accoutrements. For this basket, however, Waichisai I turned to the intuitive open weaving style so expressive of the ideals of essence and simplicity exemplified in  Japanese tea aesthetics. Filled with flowers, this basket is a natural beauty.

Waichisai I was one of the few great Meiji period pioneers of what is today recognized as studio bamboo basket art. He was highly regarded in his day and won prestigious national prizes in 1881 and 1885 in the Exhibit for Promotion of Domestic Industry (created by the Meiji government to promote opportunities for foreign trade). He was extremely influential in the Kansai region, as his descendants include not only his direct line, Waichisai II and III, both accomplished artists producing excellent works through much of the 20th century, but also the great line extending from Tanabe Chikuunsai I (1887-1937). An essential figure in the development of 20th century bamboo art, his elegant works are included in many museum collections.

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