Flower Basket / by Shibui

Kago, or baskets, encompass a wide variety of designs and uses in Japanese culture. Refined ikebana baskets for flowers or more utilitarian sieves, winnowers, and strainers: all represent a wealth of bamboo craftsmanship. The use of bamboo in the construction of baskets has much to do with its accessibility. Bamboo sprouts each year and takes about a year to grow to full size so that, within the space of a couple of years, bamboo is ready for use. The essential beauty of bamboo is accompanied by superior qualities of strength and resilience.

Hana kago or flower-arranging baskets have a long history in Japan being used both in the teahouse and in the tokonoma or alcove space of the traditional home. Baskets are made with bamboo and sometimes twisted rattan each exhibiting its own rich patina. Basket handles can be continuously woven as part of the body or as separate handles utilizing roots and branches. Distinctive knotting can be seen as a technique for connecting both the basket strips and handles. Weaving of thin and wide strips in both finely woven form and random appearance indicates regional specialties. Sooted bamboo from the roofs of old farmhouses accounts for the beautiful color of many older baskets. In every case an object of beautiful form and distinction is the result and can easily stand alone as much as be the receptacle of floral arrangements.