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"Ume" tada school


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Hi all. I'm looking for further information on this later branch of the Umetada school, who signed the "Ume" character with a carved plum flower. I'm having difficulty finding much on who they were/where there were working. Any other images of examples and help would be greatly appreciated!



*Image pulled from the MFA website and used here for educational purposes only.


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I don't have much in the way of information on the 'UME'  other than a few roughly 130 year old images. Regardless of their age the two extracts from the accompanying texts speak with great regard to Umetada's works.


Japanese ART


Louis Gonse

translated from French

by M. P. Nickerson.



The seventeenth century marks the apogee of iron work, as it marks also that of many other branches of art. The name of Umetada throws upon this period all the splendor of his genial talent. One must not confound this Umetada, who was from the province of Owari, with Umetada Miojiu, of Tamashiro, a maker of sword blades. Umetada the chaser signed his work with the plum flower (ume) and the character "tada." Of all metal work in Japan, his is most sought for. He was born in the latter part of the sixteenth century, and worked during the "nengo" of Kuanyei (1624-1643). Two most perfect examples of his style, celebrated throughout Japan, having the signature of this great artist, are now found in a Parisian collection. On one of these pieces dragon-flies, with the fierce look of creatures of the night, are engraved in low relief; they decorate the two sides, and extend upon the outside border, which is ornamented with a beautiful fret design. The plum-tree flower is inlaid with gold above the signature. On the other piece Umetada has expressed, with wonderful art, a sketch in the style of Yeyas. It represents a horse at liberty on the prairie, his mane flowing in the wind. The illusion of the painting is rendered by open work upon metal of varying thickness. Two qualities are found united in Umetada: finished skill in execution and originality of style. His works are so original that they are easily recognized among all others. His taste was for work of a quiet and manly character. He excelled in the chasing of iron without incrustations. He employed metal of extraordinary hardness. When one strikes one of Umetada's sword guards, holding it at the end of the finger, it sounds like a crystal bell. I will here remark that fine iron sword guards are distinguished by the purity of their sound. The more ancient a guard is, the more clear and high is its sound. This quality of sound results from the perfect state of homogeneity and density of the metal, resulting from continued hammering before the work of chasing began.









Illustrations from notable examples of ancient sword-guards.

Source: The Monthly Illustrator, Vol. 4, No. 13 (May, 1895).


Outemada [Modern-Umetada] was also an able exponent of the school of metal-workers, and devoted his talents to the manufacture of tsuba; he was of a sombre turn of thought, and his works are characterized by their strange and grotesque forms, but are always notable in execution. Two pieces by this grandest artist of a past type celebrated in Japan, were found some time ago in a Parisian collection. One of these is ornamented with dragon-flies, in their wild, nocturnal aspect, hollowed out of the metal and curved over the border of the guard. In the other he represents, with remarkable art, a brush-like sketch; it is of a horse at liberty in the field, with his mane flying in the wind. All of his work is highly original, and as he employed the hardest metals they possess an almost everlasting durability.


gonse umetada (2).jpg

Edited by Spartancrest
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I am traveling and don't have access to my library.

I believe Haynes Index has an entry on 'Ume' Tada, or that there is a writeup in one of the Haynes Catalogs.


From memory, he is fairly well documented and produced a decent body of works. As looks like it might be evidenced in the dragonfly tsuba- I think he sometimes colored in the 'Ume' with a bit of gold.

  --Ah... I'm belatedly reading Dale's post now. Good post with info. Certainly better than my foggy Sunday morning attic of a brain.

Rather interesting write-ups. I don't know if I have read those before.



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21 hours ago, Spartancrest said:

The plum-tree flower is inlaid with gold above the signature.

Yes Curran, Gonse mentions the gold inlay - wish I could find a clear picture.

22 hours ago, Spartancrest said:

On one of these pieces dragon-flies, with the fierce look of creatures of the night, are engraved in low relief

Like everyone else, Gonse got some things wrong, Dragonflies don't fly at night [ Just the same as the opening scene in 'Men in Black' -WRONG  :shock: ]


For those unfamiliar with Gonse he was an early (Western) authority on Japanese art including Swords but mainly Tosogu - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Gonse

he wrote extensively [unfortunately for me at least -  in French!] [The Countess Annie De Montaigu, took all her illustrations and information from Gonse]

Sorry for drifting off topic  :offtopic:

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I think the MFA piece was done by this guy (lifted from the mei book Markus xlated, presented for educational purposes only):



I have a piece signed umetada with the ume as the first character, but I kind of think its done by a different umetada guy, maybe the same as the pieces Dale posted?:






I hope that helps...



(Richard George)


Edit: and looking of fleabay, there's a Japanese seller that appears to have another piece by the ichi'ou guy available as well:





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Thank you all for your input! I appreciate it greatly 🙏🏼

I have been very busy and haven't had a chance to respond until now. Here's another one that has come up in the search.

Thank you again very much!!





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