“Lofty” Handled Flower Basket
Iizuka Rokansai (1890-1958)
Item number: T-2286
Size: H 20.9" x W 8.5" x L 8.9" (53 x 21.5 x 22.5 cm)
Showa era (1926 –1989), late 1930s Hōbichiku bamboo; free-style square plaiting, wrapping, knotting; vertically scored and lac- quered bamboo otoshi (water container)
Signed on the side of one handle: Rōkansai saku 琅玕斎作 (Made by Rōkansai)
Fitted sugi (cryptomeria) wood tomobako storage box inscribed outside Hanakago 花籃 (Flower basket); inscribed and signed inside Teitei Rōkansai saku 亭々 琅玕斎作 (“Lofty,” made by Rōkansai); seal: Rōkansai 琅玕斎
The overall shape, growing slightly wider toward the mouth, recalls the suehiro or hirokuchi (splayed) style that had been pioneered in the Kansai region by Chikuunsai I (see numbers 3 and 4 in the pres- ent publication) for flower containers intended to be presented or displayed on auspicious occasions; Rōkansai adds to the celebratory meaning of this basket by forming the handle into a festive bow.
The basket is named Teitei (“Lofty,” “Towering”) and the slightly irregular profile of the sides does indeed suggest a mighty tree trunk, an effect en- hanced by the way Rōkansai refrained from elimi- nating all the slight imperfections in the bamboo and disposing the nodes unevenly to achieve a natural, organic look. The box signature and seal, especially the treatment of the character saku 作 (made), point to a date in the late 1930s.