Written on December 30, 2008
You can call this a boro basket of sorts: what a gorgeous, rustic and wonderful-looking thing. This is a woven basket which is covered with a random smattering of pieces of paper, applied in many, many layers and all held together with glue. It measures 10″, 25 cm high by 11″, 28 cm in diameter.
The brown patina of the basket could very well be the result of the application of kaki shibu or green persimmon tannin. Kaki shibu was used on myriad household and everyday items in old Japan, including umbrellas. Kaki shibu gives a very distinctive, rich brown color and it is the same stuff applied to sakabukuro or the very collectible sake straining bags.
The form of the basket is a kind of loosely rendered and squat cylinder. The shape of the lip, however, is irregular and its backward curve suggests that the basket beneath the papier mache may have originally been a burden basket or a hanging storage basket.
In keeping with the spirit of recycling and reuse, the backdrop for the basket in these photos is a trio of panels of hand woven zanshi cotton, zanshi being a kind of cloth which is woven from the leftovers of spools of yarn. Of the many varieties of Japanese folk textiles, zanshi ranks near the top of my personal favorites and I will be offering these pieces on my website in the near future.