Mumei (unsigned): Shōnai School
Size: 7,10 cm x 6,60 cm
Thickness at rim: 0,60 cm
Period: Mid Edo
N.B.T.H.K. Hozon Certification
In Kiri box
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Tsuba alluding to the Noh play “Momijigari – Leaf peeping”.
Elongated round shape, iron, polished finish, set-in inlay with high relief, high relief worked into the surface, texture inlay, angular rim with a little roundness.
In this Noh play, a high-rank beautiful woman is visiting a mountain with her female attendants to enjoy the maple-leaf viewing; the group commences a banquet. In the meanwhile, Taira no Koremochi, a warrior of the Taira clan, is hunting in the mountain. The woman approaches him and invites him to the banquet. After drinking sake together, Koremochi gets drunk and falls asleep.
As he sleeps, a deity appears in Koremochi’s dream and warns him: the beautiful lady is actually a demon. He gives Koremochi a sword with which to defend himself. Thanks to the god intercession, Koremochi finally wakes up, fights with the demon and at last defeats it.
Regarding Shōnai school, the 1st gen. was Watanabe Arichika (渡辺在哉), born in Tsuruoka (鶴岡), in Dewa’s Shōnai fief (庄内藩), in the first year of Kanbun (1661) as the son of Watanabe Gihei (渡辺儀平, ?-1733). His first name was “Gihei” (儀兵衛) and he started his apprenticeship with Chinkyū. Later he also studied under his fellow student Tsuchiya Yasuchika.
Arichika the first died on the fourth day of the fourth month of Kanpō two (1742) at the age of 82. Like Chinkyū, Yasuchika and most of the other Shōnai-kinkō artists, he combined the styles of the Shōami and the Nara school. Up until the Meiji era five other Watanabe Arichika were active, but their exact succession of generations is somewhat unclear. Fact is that all of them adopted the hereditary name “Gihei” (儀兵衛). The supposed 2nd gen. Arichika – who used also the name “Arinobu” (在布, also read “Zaifu”) – was the son of the 1st gen. He was born in the second year of Shōtoku (1712) and died on the 21st day of the seventh month of Hōreki twelve (1762). He was followed by two Arichika of which one was the 3rd and the other the 4th generation.
The supposed 3rd gen. Arichika also bore the name “Taketaka” (武君). He was born in the fourth year of Genbun (1739). The 4th gen. Arichika was also called “Masayoshi” (雅珍, also read “Gachin” or “Masachin”) and was the second son of the 2nd gen. He was born in the second year of Hōreki (1752) and died on the 23rd day of the tenth month of Kansei twelve (1800). His successor as 5th gen. Arichika was probably the Arichika who was born in the seventh year of An’ei (1778) who also used the name “Masaoku” (雅息, also read “Gasoku”) and the gō “Jiundō” (治雲堂). He died on the seventh day of the seventh month of Tenpō seven (1836).
The supposed 6th and last gen. Arichika was the son of Jiundō Arichika. From him we also know the name “Ariyoshi” (在珍) and the gō “Jiunsai” (治雲斎). He died on the 22nd day of the eighth month Keiō two (1866).
The second son of the 4th gen. Arichika continued the craftsman name “Masachika” (雅哉). His first name was “Zenta” (善太) and he also bore the family name “Okada” (岡田). He was born in the sixth year of Kansei (1794) and used the gō “Hatsushinsai” (発心斎 or 發心斎), “Sui’unsai” (翠雲斎), “Chikuzandō” (竹山堂, also read “Takesandō”) and “Tōzandō” (東山堂).