Ko Kinkō



Mumei (unsigned): Ko Kinkō

Size: 6,55 cm x 6,20 cm

Thickness at rim: 0,40 cm

Weight: 96 gr

Period: Late Muromachi

N.B.T.H.K. Hozon Certification

In kiri box

Price: € 950,00

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Tsuba depicting a plum tree.

Hollyhock and lobed shape, unrefined copper with roe style surface finish, relief worked into the surface (with this technique larger areas of the surface are worked off using larger carving tools), punctual gold and colour inlay, rim which remains raised after the surface was worked off. The prefix “Ko” denotes tsuba made before the Edo period, from late Nanbokuchō/early Muromachi period. Ko-Kinkō  (古金工) means early softmetal artist, and is usually applied to relatively ornate, early non-Gotō, non-Mino shakudō and yamagane fittings. These guards are considered the work of specialist kodogu makers, although their names are not recorded. Some believe these tsuba are a type of tachi-kanagu-shi tsuba (tsuba done by makers of tachi fittings). The prefix Ko denotes fittings made before the Edo period, Edo period is denoted by Kyō or Edo Kinkō. While there is doubtless a wide variety in the quality of sanmai tsuba, these have received origami from the NBTHK attributing them to ko-kinkō and dating Momoyama to early Edo period. The Ko-kinkō workers should be subdivided into three groups: the Mino-Gotō, the Ko-Gotō (sometimes referred to as the Jidai-Gotō), and the independant Ko-Kinkō. The Ko-kinkō worked in kawarigane (soft metal) of shakudō or yamagane in most cases.

The authorities of the past have given little heed to the irogane ko-tsuba (multi-colored metal tsuba made in Muromachi and Momoyama ages) workers. Their importance as artists within the historical context of the development of the soft metal tsuba makers cannot be neglected. The work of the ko-kinkō was to last until the end of the Momoyama age. At that time they were eclipsed through the rise of the kinkō age. Tradition says that the Ko-Gotō were the descendants of the Mino-Gotō workers. There is some evidence that the inter-relationship of the ko-kinkō workers was so strong that a clear distinction between the various subdivisions is almost impossible.

By the end of the Edo age some of the ko-kinkō seemed to have become tachi-kanagu-shi.

Very important is the emergence of Gotō Yūjō (1440-1512) in the mid Muromachi period, as an individual craftsman who was one of the first to sign his work. Back then, craftsman was a rather lowly class compared to later times and signing one’s own work was uncommon and not expected.

Another name of an early sword fittings maker can be found in the Sōken Kishō which was published in Tenmei one (1781). Also there was Ichikawa Hikosuke who made skillful engravings by using three different chisels.

Apart from that there exists a tsuba by the 3rd Ōtsuki-generation Mitsuyoshi on which he signed with ‘20th gen. after Ichikawa Hikosuke’. However, the 4th Ōtsuki-generation, Mitsuoki, signed a tsuba and referred to himself as 25th generation. So with all these references it is likely that a certain pre mid Muromachi period Ichikawa Hikosuke really existed and that he was the ancestor of the considerably later Ōtsuki School.