Bamboo Art

Round Web, Fan
“Round Web, Fan” by Nagakura Ken’ichi – bamboo, driftwood, rattan

We were so fortunate to visit the Bowers Museum in nearby Orange County on the last day of the exhibit of Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art.

“Although bamboo is a prolific natural resource, it is a challenging artistic medium with less than 100 professional bamboo artists living in Japan today. Mastering the art form requires decades of meticulous practice while learning how to harvest, split, and plait the bamboo.”

“Circle” by Nagakura Ken’ichi – bamboo, laquer, powdered polishing stone & clay.  A tiny water container is inserted in the center of this piece to hold flowers.

In Japan, bamboo basketry and the art of flower arranging (ikebana) stem from interwoven cultural traditions. Ikebana evolved from Buddhist rituals in which blossoms were offered to deities out of bamboo containers. Flower arrangements became an enjoyable component of the Japanese tea ceremony, popularizing ikebana on a secular level.  

Sound of Wind
“Sound of Wind” by Uematsu Chikuyu – bamboo, laquer, hemp, Japanese washi paper and rattan

One of the most beloved Japanese fairy tales is the 10th century Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. A hard-working old man, unable to have children, is harvesting bamboo when he decides to cut a mysteriously glowing stalk. Inside the hollow culm is a tiny baby girl, who he names Kaguya and raises as his own.
    After discovering the ethereal beauty, every bamboo stalk he cuts contains a gold nugget, quickly making him a wealthy man. The girl grows into a woman of renowned allure and is courted by five princes. Even the Emperor of Japan desires to marry her, although Kaguya rebuffs all romantic advances, and reveals she is a Princess of the Moon. A celestial procession descends, and transports the moon maiden to her true home.

Shore II
“Shore II” by Honma Hideaki – bamboo, laquer

There are over 1,400 different varieties of bamboo in Asia, of which more than 600 species grow in Japan. From this abundance of options, bamboo artists only use a dozen bamboo species in creating their art works.


Gentle Heart
“Gentle Heart” by Fujinuma Noboru – bamboo, rattan

Pieces are usually formed from one or two species of bamboo per work. Color, pliability, density, thickness, circumference, and age comprise the key selection criteria. In addition to bamboo, rattan, a palm imported to Japan, is often used for decorative knotting or wrapping of the bamboo.

Pattern of Wind
“Pattern of Wind” by Uematsu Chikuyu – bamboo, wood

The bamboo might be smoked, leached, or dyed. Lacquer can be applied as a protective coating that also enhances the beauty of a piece, making it more impermeable to damage.

Circle, the Symbol of Enlightenment
“Circle, the Symbol of Enlightenment” by Uematsu Chikuyu – bamboo, rattan

Over the past century, the creativity and talent of bamboo basket makers has elevated their status from artisan to artist. These artists have redefined aesthetic conventions as their creations have evolved from functional vessels to sculptural objects.

Rotation of Ellipse Makes Two Transparent Drums
“Rotation of Ellipse Makes Two Transparent Drums” by Ueno Masao – bamboo, rattan, lacquer, gold powder
“Sailing” by Sugiura Noriyoshi – bamboo, rattan


“Undulation” by Honda Shoryu – bamboo, rattan


18 thoughts on “Bamboo Art

    1. I was SO impressed with the inventiveness of these forms. I couldn’t think them up, or even draw them, let alone execute them. In fact, I couldn’t even see the join of bamboo strips that must be there.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I immediately thought of you because of your flower arranging, as well as because of the materials these artists use. I’m sorry you missed it too. I wasn’t aware of this exhibit while you were visiting 😦

      I don’t know anything about a torus – gotta look that one up. Thanks! If the artist created a pattern like that of our energy, then it must be some form of plugging into that pattern. Wow.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. So many people have the same reaction to these artful creations that I did! People are surprised and delighted. Who knew such an art form even existed? Not me, that’s for sure. But then I was thinking about these beautiful objects, and I am guessing that part of our delight is that they’re made from natural and humble materials. I don’t think I would respond so well if they were made from wire and plastic strips. Makes you think, doesn’t it!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Val.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I visited on the first Sunday of the month, because I thought it was free entry. But they (Target) stopped their sponsorship. But it sure was worth the price of admission.

      Liked by 1 person

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