Kogai: Octopus prisoner of monkeys
Signature/mei: Takase Eiju
Material: shibuichi, shakudo, silver, copper, gold
Era/jidai: late Edo period
Dimension: 21.2 cm x 1.24 cm
NBTHK: Tokubetsu Hozon (2023)
Price: €3500 / $3900
Shibuichi kogai made by the mito artist Takase Eiju, who was a disciple of a famous craftsman of the Mito Tradition, Taizan Motozane. Takase Eiju was active during the late Edo Period.
An octopus and two monkeys are put on the nanoko base. The octopus is made of copper while the monkeys are made of shakudo and what appears to be silver. The monkeys faces are accented with copper and their eyes are made of gold, like the eyes of the octopus. All the carvings are very delicate, Takase Eiju shows us how much detail can be represented in a small space. Since this kogai has a beautiful tapering, the appearance is rather elegant. I believe this kogai was worn by an older samurai who didn’t need a “flashy” kogai but something to reflect something personal to him. The NBTHK called the design “Octopus prisoner”. I believe there is a japanese fairy tail about an octopus beeing imprisoned by monkeys. Perhaps it was the favorite fairy tale of the samurai who wore this kogai on his koshirae.