Wada Waichisai III (1899–1975)

“Kunlun Mountains” Handled Flower Basket of the Teiryō Type

Wada Waichisai III (1899–1975)

Item number: T-4302
Size: H 23.8" x W 13.8" x D 10.5" (60.5 x 35 x 26.7 cm)
Era: Showa era (1926-89)

Other views

Showa era (1926 –1989), circa 1933 –1940 Susudake bamboo, rattan; free-style square plaiting, bending, wrapping, knotting; vertically scored, faceted, and lacquered bamboo otoshi (water container)

Signed underneath: Waichisai tsukuru (Made by Waichisai)

Fitted wood tomobako storage box inscribed outside Teiryō hanakago mei Konron  (Handled flower basket named “Kunlun Mountains”); inscribed and signed inside Seisetsu fūu jōshi Waichisai (Waichisai, in the moody wind and rain of western Settsu province); seal: Waichisai saku (Made by Waichisai)

The third in a lineage founded by Waichisai I (1851–1901), one of the pioneers of bamboo art in the Kansai region, Waichisai III was born in Osaka and studied under Wada Waichisai II from 1911, succeeding to the Waichisai name upon the latter’s death in 1933. This is one of a group of baskets to which he assigned names associated with early Chinese mythology; in addition to the present work, there is one in a private collection named Seiōbo  (“Queen Mother of the West”) and another in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco named Geppōden  (“Moon Palace,” inv. no. 2006.3.768). Kunlun (in Japanese, Konron), referred to in Waichisai III’s title, is a mythical group of peaks located in the far west of China at the source of the Yellow River. Said to be the abode of the Eight Immortals and the Queen Mother of the West, Kunlun was also a major source of jade. It remains unclear what association the artist had in mind be- tween that remote imaginary realm and the present elegant demonstration of the informal square-plait- ing style that was in vogue during the 1930s.

The exact significance of the words Seisetsu in the box inscription remains a matter of dispute; the second character may be ki 掎 rather than setsu 摂, in which case the reference would change from “western Settsu Province” (corresponding to modern southeast Hyogo Prefecture, just west of Osaka) to Nishihashikaji near Katō City, a location further west in Hyogo. The same phrase is found on several other storage boxes inscribed by Waichisai III including one in the Naej Collection dated 1933, as well as the boxes for the two baskets mentioned above.1 


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