JAPANESE BAMBOO BASKETS

Armor-plaited Flower Basket by Wada Waichisai II

Wada Waichisai II / 二代和田和一斎
1877-1933
Armor-plaited Bamboo Flower Basket

1925

57 x 18 x 18 cm

22.5 x 7 x 7 in

Original box signed, sealed and dated by Waichisai II

Original lacquered water container

This impressive armor-plaited karamono basket perfectly describes the boundary transversed by the bamboo artists of Taisho-period Japan. Certainly it was made for use in the sencha tea ceremony, which flourished in Osaka at this time. The Taisho period was one of great artistic productivity, in which increasing wealth and international cultural exchange stimulated artistic experimentation of all kinds. Many long-standing artistic techniques were reinterpreted in light of new media and ideas. With their rigorous ‘pre-modern’ training, the artists of this time produced whole new bodies of work that seemed to emerge fully formed, with a remarkable freshness and confidence.

 

Similarly, this basket seems to be looking simultaneously to the past and the future. Its form so clearly refers to earlier Chinese ideals of cultured contemplation, while its construction answers to the exacting standards of Japanese craftsmanship. And yet it retains something of the raw rusticity of basketry and the natural feel of bamboo that would remain at the center of Japanese bamboo art for decades to come.

Waichisai could have used this basket as an opportunity for a dazzling display of technique. Instead he chose to walk a fine line. The use of such varied widths of bamboo—fine strips for the plait of the body, broader vertical lengths showing the texture of their nodes, coarsly-braided rattan around the rim, and smooth half-rounds for the soft curves of the handle—gives this basket a simultaneous lightness and formality that seems one of the unique pleasures of bamboo basketry.

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