Handled Hexagonal Flower Basket
Ishikawa Shoun (1895–1973)
Item number: T-4247
Size: H 14.8" x W 10.1" (37.5 x 25.7 cm)
Era: Showa era (1926-89)
Signed underneath with incised characters Shōun saku 照雲作
Susudake bamboo, madake bamboo, and rattan; twill plaiting, bending, wrapping, knotting, radiating-pattern base with radial plaiting over twill plaiting; with lacquered bamboo otoshi (water-container) and fitted wood storage box labeled Kagohanaire (Basketry flower-container).
Born in Shimo-Nagano, Tochigi Prefecture, Ishikawa Shōun was a pupil of the great avant-garde bamboo artist Iizuka Rōkansai and worked in Tokyo from 1910. He was selected for the special exhibition held in 1940 to mark the 2,600th anniversary of the foundation of the Japanese Empire. During World War II he evacuated back to Tochigi but returned to the capital after Japan’s defeat to resume his career, producing baskets in a range of styles, from informal sculptural pieces in the style of Rōkansai woven from broad strips of bamboo to meticulous, conservative flower containers in the karamono (Chinese) manner.
Like many baskets woven in the Kanto region during the post-war year, this example makes effective use of of contrasting materials and techniques. Structural components made from susudake (bamboo that has darkened from many years of exposure to smoke from the kitchen hearth of a dismantled farm building) are combined with twill paiting in standard madake bamboo, prepared using the masawari (radial splitting) technique, in contrast to the flat or tangential cutting customary elsewhere in the country.
Ishikawa Shōun’s baskets are in the Lloyd Cotsen Japanese Bamboo Basket Collection at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and the Naej Collection, among others. In AAMSF: A bent-bamboo fruit tray (after 1945, see Melissa Rinne, Masters of Bamboo: Artistic Lineage in the Lloyd Cotsen Japanese Basket Collection, San Francisco: Asian Art Museum, 2007, cat. no. 25). In the Naej Collection: a free-style basket in the style of Rōkansai, a handled hexagonal style somewhat in the style of the present piece, and a handled flower basket of susudake bamboo in dense twill plaiting (see Naej Collection, Baskets: Masterpieces of Japanese Bamboo Art 1850–2015, forthcoming, cat. nos. 221–223).