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    Sale 1978

    Japanese And Korean Art

    18 March 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 347

    An Echizen Wakizashi in Gold-Lacquered Leather Mounts

    EDO PERIOD (17TH CENTURY), SIGNED ECHIZEN (NO) SUKEHIRO

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    An Echizen Wakizashi in Gold-Lacquered Leather Mounts
    Edo period (17th century), signed Echizen (no) Sukehiro
    Sugata [configuration]: hira-zukuri, mitsu-mune, wide-bodied and deep sori
    Kitae [forging pattern]: tightly packed ko-itame of jinie with chikei
    Hamon [tempering pattern]: suguha with hints of yakidashi combined with ko-gunome with tama, nioi, nie and sunagashi over all, bright noi-guchi and aki-mune
    Boshi [tip]: suguha ko-maru with hakikake at the top with a long return and mune-yaki
    Horimono [carving]: omote: bonji above shin no gyo kurikara; ura: bonji and gomabashi ni rendai contained within an ayame-hi
    Nakago [tang]: ubu, iriyama-gata with sujikai and kesso file marks, one hole
    Nagasa [length from tip to beginning of tang]: 16 1/8in. (41.2cm.) Motohaba [width at start of tempered edge]: 1 5/8in. (3.6cm.)
    Habaki [collar]: gilt-silver carved with clouds
    In shirasaya [wood storage scabbard]

    Koshirae [set of mounts]: comprising a leather saya worked on the surface with flowering vines and gilded and covered with transparent lacquer, the brass hardware including kojiri, kaeshi-zuno, kuri-gata and fuchi-gashira all carved in sunken relief with dragonflies, the Goto-school kozuka and kogai shakudo nanako-ji with dragons in gold taka-zogan signed Mon Eijo and Mitsutaka and with kao, copper migaki-ji mokko tsuba with a bra s rim, 17th century
    With certificate of registration designating this sword as the 31st Juyo token (Important sword) no. 7765, issued by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (Society for the Preservation of the Japan Art Sword), dated 1984.10.18 (2)


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    Tsuta Echizen no kami Sukehiro was born in Settsu province in the 14th year of the Kanbun era. He entered the school of the first generation Saburo Sukehiro and succeeded as the second generation upon the death of his teacher in the first year of the Meireki era when he was only 19. He was employed by the steward of Osaka castle, Aoyama Inaba no kami Munetoshi in 1667 until his death in 1682 at the age of just 42. The first generation studied under, and married the daughter of, Kawachi no kami Kunisuke I, and made swords like those of his teacher with gunome choji somewhat in the Ishido style. The second generation followed the style of his teacher, but later developed the toranba, or 'billowing' hamon depicting waves of the sea, which became a dominant fashion in the Kansai region and later among shinshinto smiths. Sukehiro made predominantly hon-zukuri katana and wakizashi, and hira-zukuri pieces like this blade are rare. Few of his blades have horimono, and it is probable, but not certain, that the horimono on this blade were carved by a specialist commissioned by the smith.

    The saya of this koshirae was created by wrapping leather around the body of the scabbard and covering it with gilt and finally clear lacquer. Such a process would have employed the talents of several guilds of craftsmen working in collaboration; one to work and tool the leather; one for the lacquer work; and one to carve the hardware, resulting in a very costly commission. The decoration on this leather saya is similar to patterns on leather coverings on armor that were imported into Japan from Europe during the late 16th and early 17th century, collectively referred to as "Dutch leather." Gilt-leather saya were more highly prized than were gilt-lacquer ones.