Ko Gotō



Mumei (unsigned): Ko-Gotō

Size 1: 1,90 cm x 1,50 cm
Size 2: 2,00 cm x 1,40 cm

Weight: 8,0 gr
Period: End of Muromachi

N.B.T.H.K. Hozon Certification
In Kiri box

Price: € 4500,00

Change currency > ¥ £ $


On solid pure gold plate, butterfly design is engraved. Pure gold, katachibori, positive and negative stem on the back side.

The Gotō (後藤) school was established at the end of 1400 in Kyōto (then moving to Edo with the Tokugawa family) and worked at least from the Muromachi to the early Edo period, exclusively for customers from the upper warrior class, that means first and foremost for the circles surrounding the shogun. The Gotō school were pioneers of soft metal mounts, and the classical style they initiated became regulation court wear.

In addition, the category Ko-Gotō (古後藤), old/early Gotō works that cannot be attributed to a specific individual Gotō master but which date back to an early artist of this family. Therefore, the term Ko-Gotō is used for works made before the Edo period.

With their affiliation to the warrior class, the Gotō family had certain obligations and duties. They had to take care of their own financial management and accountancy, maintain obligatory militia functions and, besides that, their family system was organized centrally, i.e. a head had to be appointed, headquarters had to be maintained, and for the creation of branch families and many other things permission from the bakufu had to be sought. The first thing that stands out is the fact that the early Gotō artisans did not make tsuba or fittings for tachi mounts. They were ordered to make sword fittings which had, in those days, the highest ornamental rank, namely the menuki, the kōgai and the kozuka, summed up as “mitokoromono” (三所物, lit. “things (fittings) of the three places”).

Gotō Shirobei Masaoku (1440-1512) was the ancestor of the kinkō lineage of the Gotō family, a samurai of Mino province, better known by his art-name Yūjō (後藤祐乗), who worked in Kyōto for the eighth Ashikaga Shogun, Yoshimasa. Characteristics of the style are the use of shakudō as a background, plain save for the nanako, or “fish-roe”, granulated surface, the invention of which is credited to Yūjō himself, with animal and figural designs of rather severe style incrusted in gold or gilt metal.

The 7th Master, Kenjō (1585-1663), broke away from the rigid traditions of the style and, like most of the succeeding nine Masters and their pupils, tended to greater variety and naturalism in manner and design. Under Renjō (1627-1709), the 10th Master, the Main (Shirobei) Line migrated to Yedo, where the rivalry of the already fashionable Nara and Yokoya styles caused further deviations from the classical style. The same tendency may be observed in the various branch lines.

Tokujō (1549-1631), the 5th Master, is the first Gotō definitely known to have made tsuba. His predecessors had confined themselves to the making of kōgai, menuki, and (Iater) kozuka, indeed, down to the 17th century these smaller mounts were almost exclusively Gotō productions.

Sword-mounts of classical Gotō style remained the correct wear at Shogunal court ceremonies right down to the end of the Tokugawa regime.