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Ko-Kinkō Kani Kōgai

This ko-kinkō kōgai (古金工笄) is made of black shakudo, and has as its motif, a single crab (kani 蟹) adorns the decorative plate (ji-ita, 地板), on a background of fine nanako (魚子). The nanako is age-worn, to the point of being polished smooth, giving the plate a high luster. The motif has been carved in relief, rather than applied to the plate.  This technique is called takaniku-bori (高肉彫).  The eyes of the crab are detailed in gold.  Towards the top of the decorative plate, The engraved warabite (蕨手) is small, broad and proportionate between the shoulders. The shoulders (kata 肩) taper to a gracefully thin neck (kubi 頸), terminating in the  end scoop (mimikaki 耳掻), which is well balanced.   In Japanese art, aesthetic nuances like these are the distinguishing features which separate common works from upper-tier pieces, and are determiners of price.

It should be noted that this piece is one of the most recognizable and most published kogai, appearing in numerous publications in Japanese and English.  It is considered a premier example of an early kōgai.  The narrow, elegant shape, thin profile and simplicity of design are reflective of the artistic and Buddhist ideals prevalent during its period of production.  From an artistic perspective, this is a very dignified piece, suggesting that its owner was a person of refinement and means.

Published among others:
  • Tosogu no Kigen. Sasano Masayuki. 1979.
  • Jidai Mitokoro-shu. Japanese Sword Fittings Museum and Ikeda Suematsu. 1986.
  • Ko-Kōgai. Ikeda Suematsu and Miyake Teruyoshi. 1997.
  • Measurements: 21.4cm x 1.1cm x 0.34cm highest point; 0.21 cm at the plate

    Early Muromachi Period (室町前期時代), ca. 1390 - 1450


    Kani Kogai White_Small_1300px x 154px

    Kani Kogai Reverse White_Small_1300px x 154px

    Kani Kogai Detail White_Small_1300px x 139px




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