UNUSUAL WAKIZASHI KOSHIRAE
This is a very unusual and interesting wakizashi koshirae. It dates to the last half of the nineteenth century and all the metal work was done by Takahashi Kiyotsugu (高橋清次). Kiyotsugu (清次)worked in the Shiba district of Edo during the last half of the 19th century. He was a student of Takahashi Yoshitsugu (高橋良次) and he also worked as a preparer for the famous Tanaka artist, Tanaka Kiyotoshi (田中清壽). Kiyotsugu passed away in 1894.
This koshirae depicts a snake, a snail, a salamander, a cicada, a frog, a toad, a beetle, and some ants all interacting in a diorama of action. In addition, the kozuka has a praying mantis and a butterfly. The fuchi, tsuba, and kozuka are all signed Kiyotsugu Kore (o) Tsukuru (清次造之).
Each of the insects, reptiles, and amphibians stands alone as an individual work of art. The quality of the carving and the expressive character of each is outstanding. There is even a bit of humor interwoven into the diorama. A close inspection will reveal that the fuchi not only contains the large gold cicada (actually the shell of a cicada after it has molted), but also several ants. Closer inspection will reveal that the ants are taking small bites out of the gold cicada shell and are marching away carrying them in their mouths. The procession of ants then travels onto the tsuba where the ants carrying their mouthfuls are being eagerly eyed by the salamander who appears to be the next step up in the food chain. Likewise, the snake wrapped around the end of the saya is eagerly eyeing all the insects, and amphibians as potential prey.