Tsuba mumei Meiji shippo Hōō kikusui-zu
The word shippo (literally means “seven treasures” in Japanese) originally indicated seven treasures in Buddhism. The treasures were called “shichiho” and it included gold, silver, lapis lazuli, giant clam, agate, pearl and maikai (red quartz) in the Lotus Sutra, and included gold, silver, quartz, lapis lazuli, coral, agate and giant clam, in Muryoju-kyo Sutra.
In the world of craftworks, shippo (cloisonne) means a technique for decorating metalwork objects with soldering the glassy glaze. It is considered the technique originated in ancient Egypt, and the oldest relic in Japan is said to be the Kikko-gata shippo kanagu (hexagonal metal fitting with cloisonne decoration), which was found in Kengoshiduka Kofun (ancient tomb) constructed in the late 7th century.
In the field of sword fittings, Hirata family is famous for using shippo technique in its metalworks. It has served for Tokugawa Shogunate for eleven generations, and the first lord, Hirata Hikoshiro Donin is said to have learned the technique from technicians from Holland or Korea, and opened up new ground for crafting of shippo works. Also, the tsuba made by Donin, Hanakumo-gata shippo tsuba is designated as an Important Cultural Property.
In the end of Tokugawa Shogunate, a prodigy of shippo crafts, Kaji Tsunekichi, has established the base of modern shippo works. The crafting of shippo has matched with the policy of Meiji government: encouragement of new industry and promotion of exports, and it flourished by the effort of Kaji Tsunekichi and his successors.
This tsuba is made with the technique of Meiji shippo, and it seems to be created for export.
On the front side, the base is divided in two colors of ame-iro (amber) and wasurenagusa-iro (light blue), with oblique patchings like a technique of sogetsugi. The upper side is filled with the image of flying Hōō (Chinese phoenix), and the motifs of floating chrysanthemum (kikusui) is laid on the lower side.
The back side holds an oriental atmosphere, by decorating with chrysanthemum flowers and snowflakes, with pattens of folding fan which have the cuckoo, moon and clouds inside.
Added to the colored base, the design uses various soft colors with Japanese taste, such as fuji (mauve), hatoba (grayish purple), kogyoku (ruby), nyuhaku-shoku (milky white), beni-fuji (pale lilac), hisui (jade), ki-kuchiba (yellow orcher), beni-kikyo (deep violet), hai-ume (greyish pink), wakatake (fresh green) and awa-fuji (pale purple). The technical use of transparent and opaque colors makes the whole image looks three-dimensional.
A piece of work filled with auspicious motifs, which tells a story of Meiji modernization.
- Kawari-gata do-ji shippo zogan
- Hozon Tosogu
- 89.8 mm
- 77.0 mm
- Thickness of seppadai
- 4.0 mm
- Thickness of mimigiwa
- 3.9 mm