Tsuba: Umetada Shigeyoshi – “Tsudagawa River”
Signature/mei: Josyu Nishijin Ju Umetada Tachibana Shigeyoshi
Material: iron, gold
Era/jidai: late Edo
Custom made box with cushion
NBTHK: Hozon (2022)
Price: €1250 / $1390 / ¥200000
Located near Nara, the Tsudagawa River has long been known for its colorful fall foliage. On the slightly oval (naga maru gata) shaped tsuba, we can see the river waves and some leaves flowing on it, carved from the iron plate using a technique called sukidashi-bori. Parts of the leaves and some gout drops are carefully colored in gold.
Nara is not far from Kyoto where the Umetada school was located, which makes this tsuba so interesting as it is signed by Umetada Tachibana Shigeyoshi. He chose a subject close to his own workshop.
Depending on the literature (Haynes, Fukushi Shigeo), there were three or four Umetada artists who signed “Shigeyoshi”. Therefore, it is difficult to determine exactly who made this tsuba. Some similar works can be found at The Met or in the Boston Museum!
The Umetada School
The Umetada School has existed since the end of the Muromachi period and has worked for the Ashikaga Shogun’s family for several generations. The Umetada masters were very versatile; In addition to swords, they also made habaki, seppa, fuchi kashira and tsuba. The Umetada were also responsible for shortening blades and creating kin-zogan signatures, as well as engraving Horimono.
Menuki, kogai and kozuka are not known from the Umetada, which is mainly because the masters of the Goto school were commissioned with this work.
(Please also note this masterpiece tsuba by Umetada.)