Mumei (unsigned): Tetsugendō Shōraku
Size: 7,5 cm x 7,0 cm
Thickness at rim: 0,50 cm
Period: Mid Edo
N.B.T.H.K. Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsōgu Certification
In Kiri box
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Tsuba of openwork depicting the Genpei War battle in the Ikuta Forest.
Elongated round shape, iron, large and three-dimensionally interpreted openings, gold, silver and pure copper accentuations, angular rim with a little roundness, two opening for scabbard accessories, one of them plugged with gold.
It is thought that the Tetsugendō school finds its origins in Okamoto Harukuni岡本治国, even though, due to the fact that there are no signed pieces extant by him, this is nothing more than pure speculation. All is known is that his first name was “Denbei” (伝兵衛) and that the name of his shop was “Tetsuya” (鉄屋). A short form of the latter pseudonym “Tetsuden” (鉄伝) has also been transmitted. He lived in Kyōto and signed in early years with “Kuniharu” (国治) but this information could also be a transcription error of a meikan entry. Anyway, his artistic period is dated between Kyōhō (1716-1736) and Hōreki (1751-1764) era.
Tetsugendō Shōraku (鉄元堂正楽), 1st gen., whose first name was “Genbei” (源兵衛) and his civilian name “Toshiyuki” (敏行), also belonged to the Okamoto family. He was the student of Harukuni. He adopted the shop name “Tetsuya”, and combined it with his first name to make the pseudonym “Tetsugendō” (鉄元堂). At the beginning, he wrote it with the characters 鉄源堂, using the character “Gen” 源 in his first name. Later he also signed with the name “Naoshige” (尚茂). After entering priesthood his nyūdō-gō was “Shōraku” (正楽). Tetsugendō Shōraku died in the ninth year of An’ei (1780).
There exist several theories about his artistic origins. One says he was a preparatory craftsman for Ichinomiya Nagatsune, and another sees the famous tsuba artist Kaneie (金家) as the ancestor of Tetsugendō Shōraku. But it is likely that he was largely a self-trained artist, besides his studies under Tetsuden Harukuni. Because there are no extant signed works by Harukuni it is also possible that it was actually him the one who worked as a preparatory craftsman for Nagatsune.
Tetsugendō Shōraku worked primarily in iron, with suemon inlay and takabori-iroe ornamentations. He also applied gold, silver and shakudō-zōgan and some tsuba show a sukashi openwork design or a motif which is underlined or emphasized by decent sukashi openings.
Tetsugendō Shōraku Naofusa (鉄元堂正楽尚房), his first name was “Bunjirō” (文次郎), was the son of Harukuni and was later adopted as successor by Naoshige, i.e. the 1st gen. Tetsugendō Shōraku. It is unclear if Naofusa and Naokata (尚方) were the same person because some sources also list Naokata as the adopted son of Naoshige. Incidentally, Naokata’s first name was “Chōbei” (長兵衛). It is also possible that Naokata succeeded as the 2nd gen. Shōraku: in fact, there exist some transmissions that state that the first name of the 2nd gen. Shōraku was “Chōbei”.
Other transmissions mention that Naofusa inherited the craftsman name “Toshiyuki” (敏行) but broke up with the Okamoto family to work under the name “Seiryūken Eiju” (成竜軒栄寿). This name, on the other hand, is attributed to the Umetada school in many meikan lists. A reason for this might be that Naofusa’s son Naotomo (尚友) – his first name was “Ihei” (伊兵衛) – also signed, besides his gō “Tōryūken” (登竜軒), with the family name “Tachibana” (橘) which was also used by the Umetada family. However, several students of the 1st and 2nd gen. Shōraku were allowed to use the pseudonym “Tetsugendō”.