A Bamboo Basket Maker | Japan | Living in Mexico

A Bamboo Basket Maker

We took a train to Sakai, near Osaka, to visit the home of one of the more famous families of Japanese craftsmen, the Tanabe Chikuunsai family. They make baskets of bamboo; one-of-a-kind museum pieces. They've been making them for four generations. The few baskets shown here were all made by members of this family and give some idea of the evolution of this art.

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We learned about how this art came to Japan from China centuries ago, how the early basket makers copied the Chinese style, and how Japanese basket-making evolved into a uniquely Japanese art form over time.

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The last basket pictured, beside the old guy dozing on the floor, was made by a member of the fourth generation of the family. In the picture below, we see third and fourth generation artists. The first and second are no longer living.

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Their baskets are exquisite, and exquisitely expensive. Two of our traveling companions are avid collectors, and bought baskets at the gallery. You need to have a deep appreciation of these objects to pay the kind prices they paid.

Tanabe Chikuunsai baskets will be on display at The Ruth and Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese Art in Hanford, CA from June through December, 2006. We plan to drive over there during our five week visit to Santa Barbara in September.
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