Japanese Title: 雀に牡丹図 (tsuzua ni botan no zu)
Material: Red Copper (Shakudō 赤銅), Gold (Kin 金)
Age: Edo Period (江戸時代)
Size: 9.7 cm X 1.9 cm
Signature: Shōmin (章珉) + Kaō
Surface Finish: Nanako-Ji (奈那子地)
Attachment: Custom Kiri Wood Storage Box
This is a accessory knife handle (kozuka 小柄) for a long sword (daitō 大刀) made sometime during the Edo Period (1615-1868). The ground plate (ji-ita 地板) is constructed of a dark copper gold alloy (shakudō 赤銅) with a very fine textured surface similar to fish roe (nanako-ji 魚子地). The reverse side (ura-ita 裏板) is made of what I think is solid gold (kinmuku 金無垢) with an applied surface texture. The central design (mon 紋) carved in high relief from a solid piece of gold is peony (botan 牡丹) tree with a sparrow (tsuzua 雀) resting in its branches. On the reverse side of the kozuka along a finely textured background reminiscent of heavy falling rain is the signature Shōmin (章珉) with a unrecognized kaō.
After discussing this with Robert E. Haynes and Elliott D. Long it was determined that kozuka is the work of a unrecorded goldsmith (kinkō 金工) artist working during the Edo Period during the height of the popularity of soft metal alloy sword fittings. Because this kozuka is the work of a unrecorded artist I am not sure what would be the results of this kozuka being submitted to formal appraisal examination in Japan (shinsa 審査). The workmanship is characteristic of the merchant street carvers (machibori 町彫) of the Yokoya (横谷) School that was started by Sōyo (宗與) a student and preparer of Gotō Injō (後藤殷乗) who moved from Kyōto (京都) to Edo (江戸) to establish the new school.
Provenance: Hans Koga Collection