Tanabe Chikuunsai II (1910-2000)

Bamboo Flower Basket in Chinese Style

Inv. Nr. #19.013
Date Shōwa period (1926-1989), 1950s
Material Bamboo, rattan, lacquer
Dimensions H 41,1 x W 24,3 x D 18,3 cm

Comes with fitted, signed and sealed wooden box.

Price: EUR 12,000

Traditional, well-balanced bamboo flower basket in Chinese style with rattan wrapped handle. The mat-plaited wall ends in a wide-open mouth with a rattan wrapped rim. The handle is beautifully woven into the vessel's side and finishes close to the base with a skillful strap. The basket rests on a ring made of a single bent bamboo stem. The base is made in chrysanthemum plaiting technique with a variation of open work and parallel weaving, crossed by a flat piece of bamboo in which the artist carved his signature. The basket comes together with otoshi (water and flower container), made of a cut section of bamboo, faceted and lacquered, and original wooden box, inscribed, signed and sealed.


Chikuunsai is one of the most renown names when speaking of Japanese bamboo art. Tanabe Chikuunsai I (1877-1937), justly regarded as one of the founders of modern Japanese bamboo weaving, started the family business by becoming an independent artist in 1901 after an apprenticeship under Wada Wachisai I, who gave him one of his own former names: Chikuunsai ("Studio of the Bamboo Cloud". Along with Iizuka Rōkansai and Yamamoto Chikuryōsai I, "Chikuunsai, Master of the west", was one the bamboo artists even mentioned for his exceptional artistic abilities by German architect and design theorist Bruno Taut.


Chikuunsai II, born 1910 in Sakai City, Osaka, studied under his father from an early age. He first exhibited his work at the Teiten National Fine Art Exhibition in 1931. Following the death of Chikuunsai I in 1937, Chikuunsai II succeeded to the family name and began to work for a broader audience with frequent domestic and international exhibition. Mostly admired for his personal style of openwork hexagonal plaiting, the work also exemplifies his excellent minute technical skills in rendering the stricter, classical Chinese style baskets. He ceded the name Chikuunsai to his eldest son in 1991. Currently working in the fourth generation, Chikuunsai has become one of the most important names for bamboo works in the globalized art world.


For further reading and reference works see for example: Joe Earle: Baskets. Masterpieces of Japanese Bamboo Art 1850-2015, John Adamson Dist A/C (2018).


Signed underneath: Chikuunsai tsukuru (Made by Chikuunsai)

Box signed: Tekisuikyo Chikuunsai tsukuru (Made by Tekisuikyo Chikuunsai)

Box inscription: Karamono-utsushi hiroguchi hanakago (Chinese style flower basket with wide mouth).