Takezaiku

Bambooworks

Takezaiku (竹細工) is the Japanese word for bambooworks. Most often, it is used to indicate the craft of interweaving bamboo strips to create objects of daily use, addressed using the same word. In more technical terms, the weaving craft is called takeami (竹編, lit. "bamboo weaving"), although this definition is not as widely known as the more generic takezaiku.

Overview

The craft of using bamboo to create objects is common in Asia. The high versatility of bamboo has allowed artisans in the Continent to apply and develop techniques that see bamboo strips as the main or only material used to create objects with a vast range of uses. Nowadays, it is common to see objects of several kinds made using the takezaiku techniques: from low-cost craft items for daily use, to artistic objects for display or special use.
Takezaiku, in its wider meaning, is intertwined with Japanese culture. Applied in numerous fields (arts, crafts, martial arts, everyday life, tools...), it appears in several paintings and poems.

Although takezaiku objects are commonly crafted all throughout Japan, the techniques were traditionally developed in separate ways in different areas of the country, prompted by regional tastes, local bamboo species available, and specific requests. In some cases, outstanding artisans contributed to the growth of local styles that are now known and adopted anywhere in the country.

Osaka

Kantō

beppu

Katsuyama

Takayama

Suruga

Miyazaki

Origin

Although bambooworks are historically present in most of Asia, the oldest sign of its existence in Japan is found in artifacts from the 1st century AD. It is likely that the craft, intended as a systematic way of crafting objects out of bamboo, was introduced by Buddhist monks from China, where some of the oldest bambooworks can be traced back to the Neolithic.

Authenticity

Since the naming only refers to bambooworks, there are no rules as to what may be referred to as "Takezaiku", as long as an object is made using solely or mostly bamboo. However, the craft traditionally referred to by such naming, registered and recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, requires an item to be handmade using traditional techniques, manual tools, and human-operated machines.
An authentic Takezaiku item is handmade in Japan using Japanese bamboo.
Additionally, the cultural charge of a Takezaiku object is determined by a few main factors that may be objectively verified:


- the aesthetic value (is its shape well-balanced? Are all parts in harmony? Does it look stable? Does the material look obtained from healthy bamboo?)
- the number of bamboo strips (the more, the higher the value)
- the thickness of each strip (the thinner, the higher the value)
- the precision (are all strips well woven? Are spaces between strips equal?)

The overall size of the object, despite determining a higher cost, does not affect its price in relative terms. This means that, although a very large Takezaiku item may cost more than a smaller one, its higher price might be determined solely by the larger quantity of material used to manufacture it. Close examination is recommended to determine whether the item you are looking at is an authentic, high-quality Takezaiku.

Did you know?

• Usually, and excluding bamboo bows from Miyazaki, up to 16 stages are necessary for bamboo to be turned into a Takezaiku object. These stages may include cutting, splitting and slicing, peeling, soaking or boiling, shaping, weaving, and assemblying.

• There are hundreds of weaving techniques used in Takeami. Most sources seem to agree on 6 to 8 original techniques, on which patterns are based to obtain a total of more than 200 different effects.
The image below includes the 8 patterns at the base of Beppu Takezaiku, a style recognized as "designated traditional craft product". Also, the page at this link shows prints of several dozen patterns obtained by interweaving bamboo strips.
kiginkin bamboo works patterns takezaiku

• Some craftspeople collaborate with other artisans and artists to create objects of superior beauty and charm. An example is highly-skilled craftswoman Chiemi Ogura's stunningly beautiful vases (shown below), born from her collaboration with pottery artist Yukiko Asano–also known as Sometsuke Hanada. Ogura's bamboo strips are skillfully woven using the holes that the vases have at their top.

kiginkin bamboo works vase takezaiku