Mumei Gotô Jôshin Futokoromono 無銘 後藤乗真二所物 from the late Muromachi 室町時代. This set comprises a kozuka 小柄 and menuki 目貫. The kôzuka is constructed of shakudô 赤銅 with a fine nanakô ji 魚子地. The theme is carved in katachi-bori 容彫 meaning the motif is carved in full. This design has been punched up from behind the ground. The carving is then is finished off and the nanakô added.
This motif on the kozuka is large and covers a greater part of the Ji, and is in the style of Jôshin. The design on both the kozuka and menuki is finished in shakudô and 金袋着色絵 Kin Fukuro-kise iroe The back and sides of the kozuka are shakudô and are in excellent condition.
The menuki also have a rich dark shakudô ji and there is 金袋着色絵 Kin Fukuro-kise iroe. The neshi 根足 (posts) are inyokon 陰陽根. That is a male and female post that enabled securing via a rod that passed through the tsuka and attached to each menuki. The male post is missing in this instance but the chikaragane 力金 (base plates) are still there. Inyonkon are said, in current thinking, to indicate that the work is mainline Gotô work. This is open to discussion but current thinking by the NBTHK seems to point to this.
In regards to 金袋着色絵 Kin Fukuro-kise iroe, this refers to the gold treatment or uttori うっとり that covers certain parts of the design. In the time of Yûjô, Sôjô and up until Kôjô, there was no such thing as soldered iroe. The sheets of gold, silver or other precious metals were held on by crimping at the base of the mon or carved design. This is the reason why many of these fittings lose their gold over the hundreds of years they exist.
The theme is described as Tatsutagawa. Tatsutagawa 竜田川 (Tatsuta River, Nara prefecture) is the very end of the Yamato rivier 大和川 (Yamatogawa) and is famous for the viewing of kaeda ka 楓梶 (red maple leaves) in Autumn.
This example shows the maple leaves, lying over planks known as ikada 筏 (rafts) which are scattered over the water, drifting down stream. These symbols were celebrated in Japanese art. The rafts carrying their precious cargo, drift down stream, over time, they loose their treasure and continue on alone. This symbolizes change and has much significance for the samurai. The maple leaves are a mixture of gold and shakudo, the ikada are in shakudo and there are gold ropes scattered about the place.
One last feature worth noting is the way the design on the kôzuka is created. The design on this item would have been punched up from the back of the ground, and then carved and filed into shape. This can be seen in the fact the the design is clearly attached to the ground and not attached in the style of suemon. Also, the nanakô can be seen thinning out as it approaches the design. These show that the work was all created at the same time, and parts were not added by later generations. This is then a total work made by the had of Jôshin.