The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

Lotte van Laatum's Kaguya-hime Chair

A late 17th century depiction of the discovery of Kaguya-hime illustrating the infant princess in the woven bamboo basket.

Kaguya-hime is a Japanese folklore legend from the Heian period in which a bamboo cutter finds a baby girl inside a glowing bamboo stem. The bamboo cutter, having no children of his own, decides to raise her and names the baby Kaguya-hime (Shining Princess of the Young Bamboo). He weaves an intricate basket of bamboo for her crib, and within three months she grows into an extraordinarily beautiful woman. Tales of her beauty spread through the kingdom, and soon five suitors come to win her hand in marriage. Reluctant to marry, Kaguya-hime creates five impossible tasks for the suitors to complete and vows to marry the man who succeeds. Although relieved when each suitor fails, the princess longs for her true home and tears fill her eyes whenever she sees the full-moon. Eventually, Kaguya-hime tells the truth about her origins and returns to the moon, leaving her adopted parents, and a slew of suitors, utterly heartbroken.

The present lot, a chair expertly crafted using three layers of bamboo, was designed to reflect the legendary basket in which Kaguya-hime grows up. Made in a small edition (of approximately three), this rare chair illustrates van Laatum's expert melding of Japanese tradition with western forms.