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Ishiguro Teruaki tsuba, last successor of the Ishiguro school


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I recently acquired this tsuba by Ishiguro Teruaki, one of the last successors of the Ishiguro school and student of Ishiguro Masaaki. Mei says "Ichijuken Katō Teruaki (Hideaki) in the first month of Ansei three (1856), year of the dragon, on a shrine in Kanda." I have some high-end tsubas in my collection, but seeing this one in-person left me stunned. It's now my favorite tsuba and I've never owned any fitting of this level of craftsmanship so thought I would share:

 

(First 2 photos under natural lighting, next 2 photos under a studio lamp).

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Some personal observations on the tsuba:

-Every detail of the crane is crafted in meticulous detail. I get that whole Ishiguro school craft. I love how the feather end-tips flip up to give a sense of airiness and flow.

-The waves have this incredible dimension and flow to them that carries to the ura side.

-Crane and wave motif is very popular but I think this rendition is intended to focus on flow, perhaps wind.

 

Happy holidays!

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Tony, congrats! However, I recommend not to touch a shakudo tsuba with bare hands. And you may find this helpful: https://www.japaneseswordbooksandtsuba.com/store/tsuba-%26-kodogu/t167-dont-transport-tsuba-tsuba-box. I am not sure about the construction of your box, but it looks like one where the center post is held by two nails.

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Thanks guys!! Yea this is something that is definitely the centerpiece of my collection and hierlloom worthy,

 

@curran Haha, yes the whisky shall be poured! ;)

 

@tanto54 I’ve learnt so much about tosogu over the year and then in the past months so much about Ishiguro School and specifically Kato Teruaki’s works. I actually like all my previous purchases except one (a mumei minogame tsuba, since it appears to be mass produced and sold to foreigners). Every other tsuba I have is at least TH and I think visually tasteful. Also this Ishiguro tsuba is far more expensive than anything else I had ;)

 

@Higo-San Oh I know about kiri boxes and possible nail damage. I never travel or ship tsubas in the kiri box. Also that reminds me this tsuba definitely needs a custom kiri box made for it! I didn’t know about the shakudo and hands though, is that because oils could corrode the shakudo?

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Dear Tony

 

I am not aware of the exact chemical reactions behind it. But let me give it a try (everyone feel free to correct any mistakes made): shakudo is basically made from copper and copper produces a protective surface over the lapse of time or due to patination (which we call patina and which is no longer pure metallic). This patina (and not the metal itself) can be damaged by touching the surface with bare hands (due to the sweat which contains salts and water). You can easily see the results of such chemical reactions between human hands and copper when looking at modern copper coins. The shiny patina gets lost and the copper turns greenish/brownish.

 

Enjoy this piece and I am very glad that there are still collectors willing to pay high-prices for high-quality tsuba!

 

Best,

 

Chris

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I'll be a bit more forceful:

It is mandatory to put on gloves if you will handle any shakudo or else don't touch it.

 

Saying this as a dealer who has seen far too many fingerprints ruining artwork and groaning as on high resolution well lit photography they are clear as day. Under murky blurry photos that are poorly lit (i.e. how collectors sell between themselves) you won't see them.

 

Please do not handle shakudo and in general just avoid touching the thing at all even with gloves on. It is soft metal and if you look at old shakudo you see the results of touching tosogu over a long period of time (results are similar to a nice toasting with an oxyacetylene torch).

 

Don't even handle fine lacquer. 

 

Treat everything like the damage you do is 100x what it is. Then the object can last 100x longer.

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It is mandatory to put on gloves if you will handle any shakudo or else don't touch it.

As a newbie, a shinsa judge told me this when showing me a late Muromachi shakudo example with perfect gold ratio bringing out the blue that shakudo can have.

I was a tad insulted, as it seemed Captain Obvious to me.

 

See attached tsuba, also dated the same year as yours. It also has that good shakudo with the ghostly blue sheen to it.

Whenever I show it, even the most experienced collectors reflexively go to touch it. I've considered putting saran wrap or glass plate over it.

 

SOOOO..... get a good box custom made for it. Put a note on/in it that says "Gloves".

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Lovely tsuba.  The Boston Museum of fine Arts has one with a similar basic design (unsigned Ishiguro School and does not look as good).  Accession no. 13.1958

 

Nive prezzie for Xmas and New Year.  regards, John

Thanks, yea I noticed the MFA has a few under the name "Kato Hideaki" of the Ishiguro School and Hideaki could be read as Teruaki in kanji. These are 2 examples from the MFa I really like from Kato Hideaki. 

 

https://collections.mfa.org/objects/11483/tsuba-with-design-of-swallows-and-hanging-flower-arrangement?ctx=6db3cd29-99f4-4e5d-8248-fa23317d4aaf&idx=16

 

https://collections.mfa.org/objects/18837/kozuka-with-design-of-chidori-and-waves?ctx=a639f6b4-f238-4bbf-8d73-6477c970d67c&idx=39

 

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  • 1 year later...

Yea that loofah design tsuba is a very famous design by kato teruaki. However it’s also one of the most faked designs out there. When I see it I instantly know it’s fake. Most of them are poor fakes too, the nanako is printed or cast. I’ve never actually seen the real loofah tsuba before from him before. I’m sure the real one must have looked amazing. 

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  • 4 months later...

Congrats. TH for tosogu is a lot harder than for swords (where it's a checklist, more or less). I think in the case of this fine work it was an easy pass. 

 

The Battle Royal for Tosogu is at Juyo, it's even harder than for swords (and arguably, a little bit more luck involved). Teruaki doesn't have any work at Juyo: it's all first Masayoshi, then Masatsune and Masaaki accounting for 90%, with a few Koreyoshi and Koretsune, and a few later students here and there. Some contemporary of Teruaki too. I wouldn't rule out that one day a Teruaki will be accepted and pass. Overall it's one of the supreme schools of Tosogu. 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Valric said:

Congrats. TH for tosogu is a lot harder than for swords (where it's a checklist, more or less). I think in the case of this fine work it was an easy pass. 

 

The Battle Royal for Tosogu is at Juyo, it's even harder than for swords (and arguably, a little bit more luck involved). Teruaki doesn't have any work at Juyo: it's all first Masayoshi, then Masatsune and Masaaki accounting for 90%, with a few Koreyoshi and Koretsune, and a few later students here and there. Some contemporary of Teruaki too. I wouldn't rule out that one day a Teruaki will be accepted and pass. Overall it's one of the supreme schools of Tosogu. 

 

 


Yep, Juyo for machibori tsuba is pretty incredible work. I only submitted this tsuba for TH at the moment. My favorite of the Ishiguro school is Masaaki. His work is so intricate and immaculate. 

I wish I could collect more of the Ishiguro school but the school's works are so rare and expensive. 

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3 hours ago, terminus said:

I wish I could collect more of the Ishiguro school but the school's works are so rare and expensive. 

 

Yeah, no kidding. It commands a high price point, and clears out.

It is one of the few schools where I have never owned a piece, not even a kozuka.

 

 

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