Japanese Antique Double Gourd, (Hyotan), Basket of Woven Bamboo | Taisho Period
This unsigned, two-section basket was designed as a large and small double gourd cradled in a root-wood vine. The gourd, (hyotan), is rich in symbolism in Japan, and was a charm for longevity, (as it is extremely durable when dried), good fortune, and for being symbolic of fertility, since it has numerous seeds. The Japanese also regarded it as a charm against stumbling, as it rights itself, and also because it pops back up if put under water.
This large gourd basket has been woven randomly with narrow strips of bamboo. Very thin strips were twisted and braded and wrapped in a loop to imitate a cord. It is nestled upon and against a framework of twisted tree roots. Over the years, the bamboo has developed a beautiful, glowing patina. Age: Taisho, (1912-1926). Dimensions: 16-0” L x 8-0” w x 15-1/4”h.
In Japan, utilitarian baskets became a form of artistic expression when combined with the art of ikebana, or flower arranging.
As the Japanese tea ceremony gained popularity in the Edo period, (1615 – 1868), so did the demand for baskets, as flower arrangements are an integral part of the tea experience. Basket makers challenged viewers to explore the crevices and follow the line that defined positive and negative space, while reminding them of the humble bamboo material comprising the form.