Ichijô was born in Kyôto on the third day of the third month of the third year of Kansei (March 3, 1791). He was the second son of Gotô Jûyô (後藤重乗)who was the fourth generation head of the Shichirôemon family, Kyôto’s Gotô branch family. He was called Eijirô (栄次郎) in his childhood and he became an adopted son of Hachirôbei Kenjô (謙乗) at the age of nine in 1799. When Kenjô died of illness in Bunka 2 (1805), he became the head of the family at the age of fifteen. At that time he changed his name to Hachirôbei Mitsutaka (光貨). In Bunka 8 (1811), at the age of twenty-one he changed his name to Mitsuyuki (光行). At the age of thirty in Bunsei 3 (1820), he changed his name again to Mitsuyo (光代).
In Bunsei 7 (1824), he made Kodogu to decorate the koshirae of a Masamune sword belonging to Emperor Kôkaku. For this service he was given the rank of Hôkyô on the nineteenth day of December in the same year (1824). At that time, he was thirty-four years of age. At the age of seventy-three in the third year of Bunkyû, he produced a tachi- mounting for the Emperor Kômei and was promoted to the rank of Hôgen.
In the interim between making these two Imperial commissioned pieces, he was commissioned by the Tokugawa Shôgunate in 1851 at the age of sixty-one, moving to Edo to work there under Shôgunate employment. He died in Meiji 9 at the age of eighty-six and was buried at Jôtokuji Temple in Kyôto together with all the great Gotô artists.
Ichijô was the last and one of greatest masters of the Gotô school. When he first took up the metal arts, he followed the Gotô’s traditional style called iebori, and mainly produced the so-called mitokoromono consisting of three parts of sword fittings, namely menuki, kogai, and kozuka. His favorite designs were of dragon and shishi. Later, he dropped the iebori style of workmanship and turned to the style based on a realistic depiction of nature. His motifs were quite diversified and included natural objects such as grasses, flowers, insects, birds, and landscapes. He depicted them in a highly elaborate and precise manner. He enhanced his abilities by devoutly studying painting, drawing, and even poetry under some of the greatest masters of his time.
He worked in all mediums including gold, shakudô, shibuichi, suaka, and even iron. He did extremely thorough work on his pieces. He did everything himself from the basics, through nanako, and all the way to the finished piece. The techniques he used were varied combinations of takabori (high relief), usu-nikubori (low-relief), iroe (use of various colored metals), zôgan (inlay), kata-kiribori (line carving with a cross sections having upright and slanting cuts), and kebori (hair-line carving). He was especially successful in the kin-sunago-zôgan (tiny granular gold inlay) and kirigane-zôgan (thin foil inlay) by which he created decorative effects similar to lacquer work.
When he reached his last years around Ansei and Man-en eras, he took up the use of iron which was an unconventional material for the Gotô school When he used iron, he usually signed with his alias Totsuô sanjin (凸凹山人) or Hôkyô (法橋).
Ichijô trained many great artists including Wada Isshin (和田一真), Araki Tomei (荒木東明), Nakagawa Isshô (中川一匠), Hashimoto Isshi (橋本一至), and Funada Ikkin (船田一琴). Thus, he left a true legacy that is unequaled in Japanese metal working history.
Presented for sale is this outstanding ten piece set of daisho kodôgu by this great artist. All of the pieces are signed by the artist with the exception of the two kashira which are never signed. The signature on the two fuchi is a little hard to read in the photos, but each signature is explained in the translation of the zufu document below. The theme is that of dragons, which, as noted above, was one of Ichijô’s favorite subjects. In addition, the kozuka has a solid silver ko-katana blade that has been made and etched by one of Ichijô’s students, Ikkin. This set was awarded Jûyô Kodôgu status in 1980 and is in pristine condition having been lovingly cared for these many years since Ichijô crafted them. The following is a translation of the Jûyô Kodôgu zufu thoroughly describing this incredible set of fittings.
Designated Jûyô Kodôgu at the 27th shinsa held on the 8th of September 1980.
Matching set of fittings with a wave ground and kurikara design: Kozuka & Kogai signature: Gotô Mitsuyo Nyûdô Hôkyô Ichijô (kaô) [後藤光代入道法橋一乗 (花押)]; Daisho Fuchi-Kashira signature: Kashira-fuku (sub chief) Gotô Mitsuyo Nyûdô Hôkyô Ichijô (kaô) [頭副後藤光代入道法橋一乗 (花押)]; Daisho Menuki signed separately on vertical poem cards: Gotô [後藤] ・ Ichijô (kaô) [一乗 (花押)].
Ibaraki prefecture Ôkubo Yôkichi.
Dimensions: Kozuka Length: 9.6 cent., Width: 1.5 cent.; Kogai Length: 21.2 cent., Shoulder Width: 1.3 cent.
Fuchi-Dai Length: 3.85 cent., Width: 2.25 cent., Height: 1.35 cent.; Fuchi-Sho Length: 3.75 cent., Width: 2.1 cent., Height: 1.3 cent.
Kashira-Dai Length: 3.45 cent., Width: 1.75 cent., Height at the end: 0.7 cent.; Kashira-Sho Length: 3.4 cent., Width: 1.70 cent., Height at the end: 0.7 cent.
Item Appearance: The kozuka has an oborogin (shibuichi) wave ground with a kurikara design in high relief carving that is inlayed. The back plate is covered in gold and finished in file marks. The ko-gatana is silver with line engravings of a noble man without cares and Daikoku-ten, signature: Ikkin (kaô). The kogai has a shakudô ground with the ground of the carved portion being of oborogin with a wave ground on which a high relief carving of a kurikara has been inlaid. The back plate is covered in gold and finished in file marks. The daisho menuki are carved in the shape of kurikara with a shakudô ground. The daisho fuchi-kashira have an oborogin wave ground with shakudô kurikara in high relief carvings that have been inlaid.
Period: End of the Edo Period
Description: This is a matching set of fittings with a kurikara motif by the Gotô family’s final brilliantly famed artisan, Gotô Ichijô.
From the characters in the signature, “Gotô Mitsuyo Nyûdô Hôkyô Ichijô,” we know that this was made after his early period works, and it is around this time that the majority of Ichijô’s works display a robust chiseling technique in which he specialized in a style of workmanship using high relief carving with iroe depicting the school’s traditional motifs such as shishi, dragons and warriors, and works with katakiri carvings or line carvings are almost never seen.
This matching set of fittings has an oborogin wave ground with a kurikara motif in shakudô that is carved in high relief and inlaid, making it a set made with extreme care. The pieces are highly elegant and the workmanship is brilliantly exquisite.
This set is presented in a custom made fitted wooden box together with its cloth cover.