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Hilt; fuchi-kashira. Part of mounting for wakizashi. Hilt: shakudo fittings with mushrooms and aubergines in high-relief inlay; made of wood, skin (ray), braided textile; signed.
- Production date
- Curator's comments
- Harris 2005
This blade is 'shinogi zukuri' with a narrow 'mitsumune' and a medium 'kissaki'. The blade has been slightly shortened and the re-shaped tang has three holes, two of which have been filled with a lead alloy; the file marks are 'sujigai', and the tang tip is 'kiri'. There is a carving depicting Fudo Myo-o in flames on the 'omote', and a carving of a flowering plum bough on the 'ura'.
The grain is 'itame' with 'jifu utsuri, chikei' and much 'jinie'. The 'hamon' is essentially 'notare' rich in 'nie' and has intermixed 'gunome', with violent 'kuichigaiba'; some of the 'hie' continues onto the 'ji' forming into 'jifu utsuri'. The 'boshi' is 'komaru' with 'haki'. This extravagant 'hamon', with its plentiful 'nie' and grandiose texture, conveys well the aesthetic of the Momoyama period. There are two slight sword-cut marks on the 'mune', possibly indicating that the sword has been used in combat.
Horikawa Kunihiro was foremost among the pupils of Umetada Myoju of Kyoto, who is often regarded as the first and greatest of the 'shinto'-era smiths. Kunihiro was originally retained by the 'daimyo' of the Ito clan in Hyuga Province in the very south of Kyushu, after whose fall he travelled throughout Japan in order to broaden his study. According to the record 'Hyuga Shishi', he was living at Furuya in Hyuga in 1576 at the age of forty-six, and his earliest-known dated work was made at that time. He was at some time granted the honorific title 'Shinano no kami'. From 1599 he lived for a period at Horikawa in Kyoto, where he taught many pupils.
Kunihiro's blades are frequently of even curve and breadth with the extended point typical of the Momoyama and early Edo periods. This slender blade is more in keeping with the late Momoyama period (1573-96) and Kunihiro's early days, though the style of the signature suggests a Keicho-era date. The incongruity of the ferocious deity Fudo Myo-o on the omote sharing space with the flowering prunus on the 'ura' is representative of the transitional exuberance of the Momoyama decorative style.
The steel texture of Kunihiro's work is often described as 'gravelly', in contrast to the rather pretty steel of his teacher Umetada Myoju and that of Myoju's other pupils like Etchu no kami Masatoshi (no. 19). Kunihiro's hamon are often, like that of this sword, in large bright 'nie' crystals, with copious variations in activity, similar to the work of the fourteenth-century Soshu school, which Kunihiro emulated.
The scabbard is lacquered black with a spiral of 'ishime' ground giving a grey appearance. The fittings are of 'shakudo' with mushrooms and eggplants in high-relief inlay. The 'tsuba' is signed 'Bushu ju Masayoshi' (Masayoshi of Musashi Province) and the 'fuchi' is signed 'Buzen', probably by Yoshioka Buzen who was active in Edo during the 1860s.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number