|Flower arranging basket in a globular,
bag form with a loop-style handle. Woven of richly toned, split, smoked
bamboo and the handle of stained sections of rattan vine. Signed on the
reverse with an incised signature by the artist: Hōsai (Iizuka Hōsai
II, 1872 – 1934). Shōwa 7 or 1932.
With the tomobako or original box, inscribed on the exterior of the
lid: Kochiku Fukuru-gata Hana Kago or Antique Bamboo, Bag-form Flower
Basket; and on the reverse: San-byaku-nen Raiko-chiku, Kanreki Kinen,
Hōsai o(kina) Tsukuru or (A Work Woven with) Three Hundred Year Old
Bamboo, (Intended to) Commemorate my Sixtieth Birthday, Made by Old Man
Hōsai, and sealed: Hōsai Koji or Hosai the Hermit.
With the original tsutsu or water container for the interior of the
basket, cut from a heavy cylinder of bamboo, the exterior surface cut
away and scored vertically, then lacquered a red-brown and the scored
lines brushed with dust over thin lacquer in hokori-ire technique
(which often employs a tonoko powder made from either ground stone or
baked clay), and the interior lined with copper.
Hōsai chose extraordinary antique bamboo for this celebratory flower
container. He wove the base in formal, regular mat plaiting
(gozame-ami), finished at the shoulder with a triple line of finely
split twining (nawa ami). From the shoulder the body slopes in towards
the neck, woven in a free, open-work version of hemp leaf pattern
(asa-no-ha) where the upper diagonal strands twist up in series to the
right. Just below the neck both the lower diagonal strands and the
upper ones gather together across each other in fanning, wave-like
movement. Above a short collar, a double rim of rope-like, diagonal
simple wrapping (bō-maki) encircles the mouth. From either side rise
double vines of striated rattan, twisting together symmetrically until
they meet at the top in an auspicious, noshi style knot.
To highlight and texture the rich, glowing color of the bamboo, Hōsai
first applied an ash-toned pigment over to the material in hokori-ire
technique. Then after plaiting the basket, he painstakingly cleaned the
dust from the higher portions of the weaving. This supports a sense of
age or antiquity and softens the brilliance of the surface. The weaving
itself plays the formality of the body plaiting against the exuberance
of the shoulder. This opposition echoes in the handle, where the
rusticity of the vine finishes at the crest in the formality of a noshi
knot. This handle treatment reminds one of the great shimenawa ropes
demarcating the sacred areas at Shintō shrines.
Beautiful proportions, color and texture balance this masterpiece of
Hōsai’s mature work from the crest of his life.
15 ½” high x 13” wide x 12 ¼” deep.