Miniature Japanese Basket
This 19th-century miniature Japanese basket is constructed entirely out of copper. Although the base and handle appear to be made from bamboo or wood, they have actually been woven out of thinly threaded copper. The base of this basket consists of a beautiful sphere shape, with an interesting and unique dimpled design. To create this delicate, dimpled aesthetic, the base of the basket endured repetitive hammering to modify the copper’s properties and appearance. It is easy for someone to overlook this seemingly simple bubbled design, when in reality it would have taken the artist days to complete. This incredibly detailed basket clearly demonstrates masterful craftsmanship and care. The miniature basket was traditionally used during the Japanese sencha tea ceremony. A formal tea ceremony is an hours-long event that begins with a kaiseki course meal, followed by a bowl of thick sencha tea, and completed with a bowl of thin sencha tea. The purpose of the Japanese tea ceremony is to gain inner peace, and to create a bond between the host and guest. In Japanese culture, the tea ceremony is very important because it used to be practiced only by noble warlords or elite zen monks.
At this time in Japan, the Treaty of Kanagawa, Japan’s first treaty with a Western nation, was signed under force in 1854. Since the beginning of the 17th century, the Tokugawa shogunate had pursued a policy of isolation from other countries, to limit influence. United States Commodore Matthew C. Perry (1794–1858) sailed into Tokyo Bay with a fleet of warships in July 1853, demanding Japan open its ports to U.S ships for supplies. The Treaty was signed on March 31, 1854 and officially marked the end of Japanese seclusion, leading to further treaties and diplomatic relations with other Western countries.