What Is It? January 2024

Marjorie McLaren of Anchorage Alaska tells us January’s What Is It appears to be a vintage woven rattan and bamboo Chinese pillow basket, probably made in the mid 20th century. The basket has a woven rattan top and bottom surrounded by a red lacquered bamboo structure. The hardware is likely brass and appears to be missing a locking mechanism, which might have been a strip of metal with slits to fit over the two protruding metal circles or some sort of locking ring to fit through the two holes. The basket is called a pillow basket due to the rounded rectangular shape of the top and bottom that makes the basket look like a pillow when closed. It is hard to judge the size of the basket, but it is likely relatively small and could have been used for storing trinkets.

Loretta Lockett of Longmont, Colorado and Terry Cook of Fort Morgan, Colorado also suggested some good uses for this box.

The item is actually a Netsuke. These finger-sized carvings are Japanese. It is a small carved ornament, espeically of ivory or wood, worn as part of Japanese traditional dress as a toggle by which an article may be attached to go on the sash of a kimono. This netsuke is of woven cane and is a box perhaps intended for flower petals. Although made in the 19th Century it is still in fine condition.

Thank you, everyone who ventured a guess. The winners will receive a year’s subscription to the Mountain States Collector.

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