“Mount Fuji” Handled Flower Basket
Iizuka Shokansai (1919-2004)
Item number: T-2291
Size: H 18.6" x W 9.7" x L 19.5" (47.2 x 24.7 x 49.5 cm)
Showa era (1926 –1989), second half of the 20th century
Madake bamboo; parallel-line construction, wrapping, knotting; black-lacquered bamboo otoshi (water container)
185⁄8 × 191⁄2 × 93⁄4 in. (47.2 × 49.5 × 24.7cm)
Signed on the handle: Shōkansai saku 小玕斎作 (Made by Shōkansai)
Fitted kiri (paulownia) wood tomobako storage box inscribed outside Hanakago 花籃 (Flower basket); inscribed and signed inside Fugaku Shōkansai saku 富嶽 小玕斎作 (Mount Fuji, made by Shōkansai); seal: Shōkansai小玕斎
The son of Iizuka Rōkansai, Shōkansai graduated from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1942 with a degree in oil painting but after the early death of his older brother in 1943, it was decided that he would fol- low in the Iizuka family tradition. He received inten- sive training from his father and was a quick learn- er, presenting his work at the Nitten national fine arts exhibition in 1947, and earning his deceased brother’s art name of Shōkansai in 1949. After a pe- riod of experimentation, including the use of other materials such as acrylic and metal, Shōkansai came to the conclusion that it was impossible to deny the “craft” nature of bamboo, and from 1974 displayed his work at the Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition. Like Rōkansai, he excelled in a wide range of styles and techniques and although he was capable of working in the most meticulous, formal styles, he is perhaps most admired for his masterly exploration of the sō (informal) mode of plaiting. He was named a Living National Treasure in 1982.
Starting perhaps with Tanabe Chikuunsai I (1877 –1937) in the early 1920s, many Japanese bamboo artists have taken Mount Fuji, Japan’s sacred peak, as their inspiration. Shōkansai’s father Rōkansai had pioneered this particular form of Fuji basket at least as early as 1934, using “parallel-line construction”—held in place by knots around the top of the basket rather than plaiting— and making the sides slope gently inward.1 Following his father’s lead, here Shōkansai cut and arranged his lengths of split bamboo so that the nodes created a controlled but somewhat irregular pattern, suggesting clouds and mist floating across the sides of the sacred mountain.