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Japanese Baskets

Aug 27, 2008
While many people are familiar with Native American and African hand weaved baskets, Japanese baskets are not so well known. These beautiful handcrafted baskets that are constructed of bamboo have long been Japanese tradition.

The art of Japanese basket weaving dates back to the Jomon period, which dated from 10,000 B.C.E (Before the Christian Era) to 300 B.C.E. These early baskets were used as tools and were very basic in design. Later, during the Yayoi period that extended from 300 B.C.E. to A.D. 300, baskets began to have intricate designs that showed that the people had begun to appreciate basket weaving as an art form. From the nineteenth century on, Japanese artisans have used traditional Japanese weaving methods combined with certain western techniques to weave baskets that can truly be called their own.

The Japanese have two names for baskets-hanakago which means "flower basket" and hanaire which means "flower container." These people utilize these bamboo containers in the traditional tea ceremony as well as the art of flower arranging, which is an integral part of the Japanese culture.

As mentioned earlier, Japanese baskets are woven mainly from bamboo, a species of grass that is hollow on the inside but also unbelievably strong. In Japan, this grass serves a variety of purposes. It is used as a building material and can also be eaten. It also has a mystical quality about it. Japanese tradition states that the bamboo tree will only flower once in its lifetime and that this occurrence only happens once every hundred years.

In reality, the climate found in Japan as well as in Southeast Asia is ideal for this type of grass. It is also one of the fastest growing plants in the world, one plant recorded as growing 47.6 inches in one day. It can also reach an astounding thirty to sixty feet in height. The Japanese tradition holds true with some of species of these plants, with one plant living over one hundred and twenty years and being recorded as flowering only once during that period.

Due to its vast availability, the Japanese have used this plant for everything from musical instruments to utensils. Many Japanese basket weavers prefer to use bamboo taken from another item, such as old rafters and roofs. Because of the smoke from the fires and stoves in these old buildings, the bamboo that is reused is a deep burgundy color, eliminating the necessity of dyeing that is associated with the use of fresh bamboo.

The art of basket weaving is often passed down through family members, although a master basket weaver may also accept novices into his household. These students spend years studying under the master before they even touch a strand of bamboo. When they are finally allowed to weave, they are usually taught to imitate the Chinese style basket first. After the novices become comfortable with their technique, the master will allow them to begin to work with the Japanese design. Today, there are many modern basket weavers that teach their craft in a more contemporary manner, even though these artists will admit that the traditional manner is much more educational and rewarding.

Japanese weavers today do not need to face the challenges that their Native American counterparts do as far as seeking the materials that they need. Bamboo is still readily available which should ensure the survival of traditional Japanese basket weaving for many years to come.
About the Author
We have baby gift baskets that are cute and practical. Perfect for the newborn and new moms. For more information, visit this article on baby gift baskets.
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