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Ko-Gotō Hyōtan Kozuka

An unusual, high quality kozuka of Hyōtan (瓢箪) motif, made of shakudō, with a very finely punched background of nanako (魚子地), with extensive application of gold foil, in a technique called uttori (うっとり), where the gold is mechanically overlain, and affixed in very fine furrows around the edges of the motif. The artist would sometimes purposely remove areas of the gold foil to show windows to the base metal below.  This creates lovely color contrasts in the piece.  Of course, age and wear does the same, leaving us with very interesting and appealing color variations.  The NBTHK Hozon papers use an alternate term for uttori, in this case, kanabukuro-kise iroe (金袋着色絵), which literally means 'application of a gold bag [coloration]'.  The back of the kozuka is inscribed with diagonal scratches termed shigure-yasurime (時雨鑢目), usually meant to represent falling rain.

The motif itself is a executed in high relief or takabori (高彫).  Interestingly, this piece is what is termed a kōgai-naoshi kozuka, meaning this was originally an old Ko-Gotō kōgai, which had its doecorative plate removed, and refitted into a kozuka body.  Since the decorative plate of kozuka is larger than that of a kōgai, additional pieces are added by the artist to permit the fit.  You can see these elements around the periphery of the plate at both ends.  Additionally, metal had to be added to both ends of the decorative plate (the two square ends of the kozuka), in a technique called ura-ryō-sode shitate (裏両袖仕立), loosely meaning something like tailoring the back with two sleeves.  This was a very laborious and costly process, and was thus reserved only for higher quality pieces which the owner wanted to preserve, despite the added costs.  This attests to the quality of this kozuka. Finally, the kozuka has one solder line, along the spine edge or mune tsugi (棟継ぎ), again a thoughtful location that minimized the likelihood of splitting from contact with the kogatana blade.


Translation of the Hozon paper description follows:

瓢箪図小柄 (Hyōtan-zu kozuka)

無銘 古後藤 (Mumei Ko-Gotō)

赤銅 魚子地 高彫 金袋着色絵 (Shakudō nanako-ji takabori kanabukuro-kise iroe)

笄直し 裏両袖仕立  (Kōgai-naoshi ura-ryō-sode shitate)

Heisei 20th year (2008) June 27th


Measurements: 9.5cm x 1.47cm x 0.73cm

Late Muromachi Period (室町後期時代), 16th century


KoGoto Hyotan Kozuka_1300px 

KoGoto Hyotan Hozon Paper_900px 



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