Japanese Bamboo Flower Baskets - Daruma Magazine - Hanakago Antiques

   "Hanakago: Art and History of Japanese Bamboo Flower Baskets"
                                                                                              by Anita Meyer

    excerpted from the article featured in Daruma issue 36, Vol. 9 No. 4, Autumn 2002

Bamboo 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 arrangement patrons.

True appreciation of hanakago comes not only from personal observation, but also from knowing their cultural background.

fig. 4

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 period (1392-1573).

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 in Japan.

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.

. . . . .



Copyright © 2002-2017 Hanakago Antiques                                Contact E-mail: