Mumei (unsigned): Nara
Size: 7,39 cm x 7,00 cm
Thickness at rim: 0,49 cm
Weight: 85 gr
Period: Mid Edo
N.B.T.H.K. Hozon Certification
In kiri box
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Tsuba with openwork depicting the legendary Chinese characters Xu You and Chao Fu.
Elongated round shape, made of copper and gold alloy, large area openwork with niku (when the sukashi elements are further carved in a more three-dimensional convexity), colour picture with gold and silver, roundish rim.
Together with the Gotō and the Yokoya, the Nara school was one of the most influential kinkō lineages. The mainline worked officially for the bakufu and gave rise to a large number of students. A few dozens of them were also allowed to use the name “Nara”. Toshiteru (利輝) is considered the founder of the Nara school but details about his origins are rather unclear. Because of the family name it can be assumed that their origins were in Nara. Today the common theory exists that the first Nara craftsmen were kazari-shi (=kazari-shoku) and nuri-shi (lacquer artists), which were recruited at the beginning of the Edo period for the construction of the Tōshōgū (東照宮) in Nikkō and the Kanei-ji (寛永寺) in Edo, both burial places for the Tokugawa shōguns. This is substantiated by extant documents, for example we find in bukan records (武艦, books on heraldry and a register of the warrior class published on a chronological basis) of the Meiwa era (1764-1772) the name “Nara Bingo” (奈良備後) and for the Keiō era (1865-1868) the names “Nara Aki” (奈良安芸), “Nara Echizen” (奈良越前), “Nara Suō” (奈良周防) and “Nara Jūbei” (奈良重兵衛), all of them listed as kazari-shi.
This distinguishes the early Nara school from the Gotō family in terms of function and rank, even if both worked for the bakufu. In these bukan, the Gotō are namely listed as horimono-shi (彫物師“carvers”), and the Bushū-Ito school (武州伊藤), for example, as “tsuba-shi” (鐔師 tsuba craftsmen).
We also know from extant documents that the Nara family or school basically split into two lines, namely those of the kazari-shi and those of the nuri-shi, whereas the former used the hereditary first name “Shichirōzaemon” (七郎衛左門) and the latter “Hachirōzaemon” (八郎左衛門). But both lineages worked for the bakufu and the former ran the production of sword fittings as a sideline. This separation in the field of functions, as well as the work of the mentioned temples, in also mentioned in the “Sōken-kishō”.