Shakudô Ita tsuba signed Imai Nagatake (kao) and dated Ansei kinoto´u chûshû (Ansei, year of the hare, eighth month – 1855) 赤銅 板鍔 名：安政乙卯仲秋 – 今井永武 (花押).
Ichijô mokko gata, uchikaeshi mimi, shakudô ji, ji ita, tsuchime. 一乗木瓜形、打返耳、赤銅地、板時、槌目。The carving on the surface is not dissimilar to tsuchime槌目and may very well be just that.
The dimensions are 8.5cms x 8cms. Thickness is 0.15 cms at centre, and 0.3 cms at mimi.
These surfaces are typically created by a combination of the actual initial forging of the plate, some selective carving and then very subtle punch work to blend the whole into a natural surface appearance. The way the metal responds to the initial forging though is very different to steel. It’s performed cold for a start. On that point the stamped decoration (snowflakes etc) see on Ichijo work is performed cold, not hot stamped like Tembo tsuba.
One aspect of these types that Ichijo’s students produced is the very sophisticated modelling of the raised mimi. We can note a similar form in early Katchushi but in these kinkô pieces the whole aesthetic is far more considered and artfully undulating. This is why that while we can suggest that there may be a reference to the Katchushi we should not believe it is correct to suggest this is an attempt to emulate them. It may seem like it’s only semantics but from a creative point of view, and the Go Ko Ichijô were all good and original artists, the distinction is worth making, I think. *
Imai Nagatake今井永武was born in Kyôto in 1818 and died in 1882, the fourth son of a paper maker, Kamiyaki Sasaya Chûbei. When he was young he was adopted by Imai Kosaburou who died in 1848. It is said that when Imai Kosaburo passed away Imai refused the stipend [horoku] that he was entitled to and completely changed his status by becoming a student of Fujiki Kyûbei藤木久兵衛who worked with various Gotô masters and was also associated with Funada (Waka) Ikkin 船田一斤。Ikkin was also a contemporary of Nagatake. They worked together as students under Kyûbei before becoming students of Gotô Ichijô 後藤一乗. Nagatake was also a passionate Waka和歌 poet.
• Many thanks to Mr Ford Hallam for his considered thoughts on this item.
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