|period||Mid Edo (ca. 1780)|
|designation||NBTHK Hozon Tosogu Fuchigashira|
|mei||正則「花押」· Masanori (kao)|
|fuchi||3.8 cm x 2.35 cm|
|kashira||3.36 cm x 1.7 cm|
The Murakami school of the Edo period achieved fame under the great master Jochiku. He appeared out of nowhere as it is not known who his teacher is. There are 18 works of his that are Juyo but his work is a very popular subject for the Token Bijutsu masterpiece selections (the highlight item of the monthly magazine).
Jochiku hailed from Edo and used a mei of Nakanori at the beginning of his career, also using the names Mitsunori and Kanshodo. He began as an inlay worker for stirrups and became a master in the art of suemon and hira-zogan (applique and flat inlay) and for this he has obtained great fame. He often used shakudo with a crepe silk type of background (chirimen-ishime) instead of nanako. He sometimes used mother of pearl, glass, and coral to accomplish his inlay work. This use of a variety of materials to achieve the effects he wanted was innovative in the field of fittings.
Jochiku liked themes involving fish, squid, and insects best, but was able to make human figures or plant themes equally well. The Kinko Meikan rates him very highly at Meiko which I feel is about equivalent to the bottom half of Sai-jo saku (the top ranking) for sword makers.
Among his themes are an
absent god theme, which shows various accoutrements associated with the deity but not the deity itself. In this way the viewer is left to interpret to whom the theme is referring. These themes are much appreciated because of their indirect nature.
We don't know the exact dates of his work or birth or death, but he was active in the late 1700s and worked at least until 65 years of age since he wrote that into one piece of tosogu he made.
Jochiku had a few students of high standing, including Joharu who inherited the school, as the 2nd generation Jochiku, and Masanori. Others include Josen (two makers with different kanji), Joryo, Joran, Norihisa and Noritori.
Masanori is thought to be the younger brother of Jochiku though some have him as a son. He worked faithfully in the style of his teacher. We don't have a lot of information on him either, so it's assumed that he worked at the end of the 1700s into the early 1800s.
The reference example to the right is Juyo Tosogu from Masanori and shows the typical style of the Murakami school and that he too used the same materials as Jochiku and the skill level is nearly equal. Masanori is ranked Joko for superior workmanship in the Kinko Meikan, just one rank below Jochiku (about equivalent to Jo-jo saku in Fujishiro's rankings for sword makers).
Hozon Murakami Masanori Fuchigashira
I really like this fuchigashira as I generally enjoy animal themes (as can be seen from browsing my inventory page). This kind of squid is very typical for Jochiku and the Murakami school. The crepe background instead of nanako is very suitable for evoking a feeling of water and its presence in this piece makes it very straightforward to kantei to Murakami, though most would suggest Jochiku immediately.
Work of Jochiku tends to be quite expensive and hard to find. I hadn't seen any by Masanori either until I found this one in Japan, which came to me on a trade with another dealer. The careful decoration of the mantle of the squid, the individual suckers go overall into the great feeling of this piece.
The way the subject matter on the fuchi is portrayed as being partially
off stage is a nice touch, as well as the tentacles of the squid on the kashira wrapping around and over the edge. Both give a feeling of the subjects being alive. Dark brown-red lacquer is used on the mantle as well to create a feeling of wetness.
I am quite charmed with these and they are not so expensive, and a perfect example to obtain for someone who wants to document the Murakami school in their collection due to the very typical work and theme being right in alignment with the archetype.
These are ranked Hozon and come in a custom fit box. Sometimes these pieces are only submitted to Hozon in Japan to authenticate the mei and save some money. They were papered only last year so have not been on the market until now. I guarantee Tokubetsu Hozon or else a full refund for these if the buyer wants me to submit them within a year of buying them. I will do the leg work in Japan at my cost if the buyer will pay the NBTHK fees.