Japanese Basket | Unusual Rattan-Woven Pillow Form | Headrest

The basket offered here is very tightly woven, is nicely detailed, and is in excellent condition for its age. The only wear visible is on the trim/edging, which used to be lacquered black to accentuate the rim of each piece. It is a two-part piece, and allows for general small storage. This type of basket is also used for Ikebana flower arranging. Dimensions: 10-1/2”w x 7-1/2”d x 5-1/2”h.

Additional Information—

In many parts of Asia, headrests were woven, carved, or and lacquered by their owners or exquisitely crafted by artisans. These headrests often supported elaborate coiffures that were far too complex and time consuming to restyle on a daily basis. During the Edo and Meiji periods, (1603–1912), in Japan, hundreds of different hairstyles existed, especially among courtesans. A woman placed the support—a soft pillow atop a trapezoidal wooden base—under her neck so that the complex hair form that framed her face would remain intact.

People all over the world spend nearly one-third of their lives sleeping, and employing some type of pillow when resting. From ancient periods to modern times, humans have made rigid and flexible pillow forms from a wide variety of materials, including stone, clay, wood, lacquer, rattan, and bamboo. Headrests were once a staple of domestic furniture, not only in many parts of Asia and Oceania but elsewhere around the world.

Headrests served other purposes besides elevating the head and protecting hairstyles. They were used in the hot summers to keep the head cool while providing a supportive surface. They were often important indicators of one’s status, and acted as conduits to the ancestors where they were employed to invite spirits into dreams.        

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