baskets for carrying sake, harvesting tea and
storing rice have been part of daily life in Japan for
centuries. The subject of this article, however, is
bamboo basketry for flowers (hanakago). Their
development reflects Japan's creative genius for assimilating
and making its own an art form that is important to
its cultural heritage.
The union and interplay between materials,
color and design of the basket in fig.
4 invite response, but also challenge description.
The undulating movement created by what appears to be
a single strip of coarse bamboo and the seamless root-wood
handle defy basket conventions.
Perhaps the dynamic complexity and
compelling presence of hanakago transcend one's
image of a basket, spurring interest in the Japanese
aesthetic, once esteemed only by tea ceremony and flower
True appreciation of hanakago
comes not only from personal observation, but also from
knowing their cultural background.
Utilitarian bamboo basketry
in Japan has been traced back to the late Jômon
period (ca 10,000-300 B.C.), but hanakago
for the tea ceremony and flower arrangement begin
with their emergence as imports during the Muromachi
The evolution continues through
a revolutionary movement in the mid-20th century
that elevated hanakago from craft to art,
a Western distinction not traditionally recognized
Learning about the basket-making
process, the use of baskets for the tea ceremony and flower
arranging and basketry's ascent from craft to art, illustrate
how hanakago evolved over the centuries into a
sophisticated, quintessentially Japanese art form.
. . . . .