Footed tray with fret pattern “Ajiro (wickerwork)” weave

아지로만지 계문 고반

IIZUKA, Shokansai

飯塚 小玕齋
饭塚 小玕斋
이즈카 쇼칸사이


A delicate and refined work of art bringing out the best of the characteristic of bamboo.

대나무의 성질을 살린 섬세하고 격조 높은 조형미

This is a work Iizuka Shokansai produced around the time he ceased presenting his works at Nitten (Japan Fine Arts Exhibition) and began exhibiting at Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition. The inside of the tray is intricately decorated with a fret pattern and the rounded bamboo strips lined in an orderly way add refreshing elegance. It is a beautiful design that could not be realized in anything other than bamboo. Providing the form was “usable,” Shokansai regarded bamboo craftwork as a three-dimensional art and gave thought to how it would harmonize with the space in which it was placed.

Shokansai likened his own work to the concept of “shin (formal), gyo (casual), so (informal).” “Shin (formal)” referred to subtle weaving and bilateral symmetry, “so (informal)” to a freely woven work revealing individuality, and “gyo (casual)” to works in-between the aforementioned two styles. In producing a “shin (formal)” work, he would give careful thought to the form and pattern and begin by drawing an accurate plan. Based on that drawing, he would calculate the length, width, and even the number of materials he would need. Shokansai’s refined style was backed up by meticulous planning and scrupulous preparation.

In 1979, Shokansai was commissioned by the Imperial Household Agency to examine the imperial properties at Shosoin. In 1982, he was designated a holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure) for bamboo crafts. Holding bamboo in high esteem, Shokansai believed that if one was going to split bamboo, which is beautiful as is, one had to produce something even more beautiful and worked with such an approach.