«Four Guardian Deities« Flower Basket
Bamboo, rattan; bundled circular plaiting, openwork diagonal plaiting over parallel-line construction, twined mat plaiting, twining, braiding, knotting
The Tochigi basket is named Hotei, doubtless in reference to its relaxed, wide-bellied form recalling the paunchy popular Japanese god of that name. The present basket, however is named Shijin, referring to four guardian deities of early Chinese cosmology: Seiryū (Azure Dragon) of the East, Suzaku (Vermilion Bird) of the South, Byakko (White Tiger) of the West, and Genbu (Black Turtle-Snake) of the North. In 1926, the same subject had been tackled more literally by Tanabe Chikuunsai I on a square Chinese-style basket, executed mostly in rattan, that incorporates four panels of elaborate pictorial bamboo plaiting, each of them depicting one of the Four Guardians in stained bamboo on a pale background. Apart from their shared formality, the two baskets could hardly be more different in appearance, but perhaps Rōkansai´s title refers to the four double loops that descend from the braided bamboo decoration surrounding the neck. A smaller but similar basket by Rōkansai, named Hōden (Shrine), forms part of the promised gift of Diane and Arthur Abbey to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Erik Thomsen Gallery
"Japanese and South East Asian Works of Art"