Wada Waichisai I   (1851-1901) 

36 x 16 x 16 cm
14 ¼ x 6 ½ x 6 ½ inches
Original signed box and copper lined water container
Box signed and sealed by Wada Waichisai I
This ovoid basket with looped handle, coarsely woven of richly colored smoked madake (also known as susudake) is a rare work in this style by Wada Waichisai I, who straddled two eras of bamboo craft. Initially a maker of everyday utilitarian objects, Wada Waichisai I was also an artist capable of the highly ornamental and technically dazzling works desired by the Osaka ‘literati’ who esteemed Chinese tastes in steeped tea and its accoutrements. For this basket, however, he turned to the intuitive open weaving style so expressive of the ideals of essence and simplicity exemplified in the Japanese tea ceremony. Filled with flowers, this basket is a natural beauty.

Waichisai I was one of the few great Meiji era pioneers of what we today recognize as studio bamboo basket art. He was highly regarded in his day and won prestigious national prizes in 1881 and 1885 in the Exhibit for Promotion of Domestic Industry (created by the Meiji government to promote opportunities for foreign trade). He was extremely influential in the Kansai region, as his descendents include not only his direct line, Waichisai II and III, both accomplished artists producing excellent works through much of the 20th century, but also the great Tanabe and Maeda lines. An essential figure in the development in bamboo art, his elegant literati works are included in many museum collections.
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