Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Japanese Flower Cart
I've had this Japanese Flower Cart since the early 80s; maybe before that since I can't remember where I got it or the story behind it. I used to have it in my garden in the mountains and a mud dauber built a nest in the corner of the cart. Years later I noticed it and didn't have the heart to take it out. It's still in cart. Apparently where the nest was constructed was protected by the rim of the vase so the nest didn't wash away when it rained. Insects are amazing.
I did a little research and I think the vase is a traditional usabata style used in ikebana flower arranging. The cart and vase are made of heavy cast iron and the wheels actually move. The yoke is curved as if an animal might have pulled it, perhaps.
Curiously enough I never looked at this cart before I made the ceramic carts I've been building. Perhaps if I had, I might have built them differently. But maybe not; things I make are a composite of things I've seen all my life. I remember once seeing a person hauling a wooden cart in Sonoma loaded down with hay but I didn't have my camera with me that day. I can still remember it was a young teenage boy pulling the cart and a young teenage girl running after him. The cart was piled very high with the hay and I was amazed they could pull it with what seemed like such ease.
The Japanese artist Kinu Takeshita did a series of paintings of flower carts similar in style to the cast iron one I have. Takeshita was an honor student of Hogai Kano, a leading Meiji artist. Takeshita painted kacho-e, (classic bird and flower painting) landscapes, and genre scenes. Uchida published prints by the artist's work in the 1950s.
Here's a closeup of the design on the vase. If you know more about this piece please let me know. This is another one of the items looking for a new caretaker. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.