Mei (signed): Iwamoto Ryōkan + kaō (岩本良寛「花押」)
Period: Mid Edo (1751-1781)
N.B.T.H.K. Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsōgu Certification
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A rare and in a very good condition Tsuba, signed Iwamoto Ryōkan + kaō.
It has a round shape, made by copper and silver alloy, “fish roe” ground, high relief, inlay and accentuations, with mother-of-pearl inlay and angular rim.
A certain “Chūbei“ (忠兵衛) is regarded as the founder of the Iwamoto school. It is said that he was a student of the 1st gen. Yokoya Sōyo (横谷宗與). Volume 8 of the “Nihontō-kōza“ says the he was active around Kyōhō (1716-1736) but this would mean that he was rather a student of the 2nd gen. Sōyo (i.e. the 3rd gen. Yokoya). He was succeeded by his adopted son Sōotsu (宗乙) who was first called “Kōhachi“ (幸八) but adopted later the hereditary name “Chūbei“. On the other hand, the “Tōsō-kodōgu-kōza“ assumes that Chūbei and Sōotsu Chūbei were the same artist who originally came from Aizu (会津). Anyway, there are no signed works extant from either of them. If we stick to the handed-down counting of generations, then Sōotsu´s oldest son Sōei (宗栄) succeeded as 3rd gen. of the Iwamoto family. His first name was “Yohachi“ (与八). It is said that he died young and so he is omitted by some sources and Ryōkan is listed as 3rd gen.
Iwamoto Ryōkan (岩本良寛), 4th+ 5th gen.
Ryōkan – whose first name was “Kōhachi“ (幸八) – was the second son of Iwamoto Sōotsu. According to transmission he was later adopted by Sōotsu´s predecessor Chūbei.
Ryōkan the fourth died young and so his student and adopted son Okamura Eisen (岡村栄泉) succeeded him as 2nd gen. Ryōkan and 5th gen. Iwamoto. Well, no details are known about the years of birth of death of the two Ryōkan but the first is dated around Hōreki (1751-1764) and the second around An´ei (1772-1781).
The family name “Okamura“ is quoted with the characters (岡邑) or (岳村) and, in addition, the craftsman name “Eigi“ (栄宜) is sometimes found in entries regarding Eisen.
Regarding their workmanship, we know a fuchigashira set by the 4th gen., i.e. Ryōkan the first, which is entirely interpreted in the initial Yokoya style, that means shakudō with nanako ground and a takabori-iroe ornamentation. From the 5th gen. we know a more diversified workmanship, for example quite realistic interpreted works which remind us of Tsuchiya Yasuchika or the Nara school. We can also see some stylistic similarities with the Yanagawa school. Some sources say that a certain master-student relationship also exists between Sōotsu and the Sōmin-student Yanagawa Naomasa (柳川直政). This is supported by extant Iwamoto works in the style of Kōno Haruaki (河野春明) who was in turn a student of the Yanagawa school.