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Teijo Kozuka Thumb.

Goto Teijo


Circa mid 17th Century

NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Papers, 1997
Kogai (hair-pin): Shakudo-nanako with the design showing branches of snow covered winter fruit (mikan/mandarin oranges) in shakudo, gold, and silver.
Signed Teijo (程乗) with Kao.
Length 21.1 cm.
Width 1.2 cm
Kozuka (small knife handle): Shakudo-nanako, also having the matching design of winter fruit done in shakudo, gold and silver.
Signed  Teijo (程乗) with Kao.
Length  9.6 cm
Width  1.4 cm

The Goto school is synonymous with excellence in the production of soft metal (kinko) kodogu. For over five centuries, successive generations of this famous family of artists created a body of work that was rarely, if ever equaled in elegance and quality. Throughout its entire existence, the Goto name has been highly respected as one of the greatest in the history of metalwork as a fine art. Goto kodogu/tosogu defined good taste, reflected the lifestyles and interests of the Samurai, and altogether form a "window" through which you can view Japan as it once was. They were by decree, the only fittings allowed to be worn at exclusive court functions. Besides the making of sword fittings, the Goto family also operated the National mint that produced most of the gold coins used during these times. Under the continued patronage of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the mainline Goto Ie bori (family retained metal carvers), and the Waki-Goto (branch) schools, remained dominant to the very end of the 19th century, and the Samurai way of life.

Goto Teijo (1603-1673), was the son of Kenjo, the seventh Shirobei mainline master. His real name was Genichiro, which was changed to Mitsumasa after his twenty-second birthday. Mitsumasa 's uncle was Sokujo Mitsushige (1600-1631), the eighth Goto Shirobei master. Sokujo died at a very early age, and because his son Renjo, at four years old was too young, Mitsumasa became the guardian of the family. He was to fully inherit the title as head of the Goto during Kan-ei 13th (1636), becoming the ninth master. In the third year of Shoho (1646), when he was forty-four, Mitsumasa changed his name to Teijo. For some time, Goto Teijo was in the service of Tokugawa Ietsuna, the fourth Shogun, receiving an annual stipend of forty koku of rice. He also worked for the Maeda family as second master of the Kaga Goto school. When Renjo came of age around Shoo 1st (1652), Teijo retired as head of the family. Soon after this, he became a full-time retainer of Maeda Toshitsune (1593-1658). Along with his cousin Enjo, Teijo Mitsumasa continued to
work for the Maeda clan in Kaga, and the Edo Baku-fu, until his death in the first year of Enpo.

Among the many generations of the Goto, the works of Teijo are considered to be in greater variety and of higher skill. Many excellent examples still exist, and his earliest pieces will often resemble his fathers'. His first mei (Mitsumasa), is not seen as frequently, as when he changed over to Teijo. Like most sons or pupils of famous artists, he was probably fashioning items for Kenjo"s signature at that earlier time. He seems to have made more kozuka than anything else, in both standard and larger sizes. There are fine works of menuki and kogai, sometimes found in matched sets called futato-koromono. When a kozuka was added, it becomes a mito-koromono, meaning a set of precious 'things for three places' ton a sword]. Along with these items, fuchi-kashira were produced, and even some tsuba. To create his art, Teijo usually combined shakudo, nanako, and gold to form Dragons, floral patterns, zodiac animals, mon, and the like. "Uji-river" and "Genji" battle scenes of Samurai warriors are depicted as well. After his "retirement", Teijo became more independent and conceived his own designs that were not quite so rigid as the Goto tradition usually called for. Besides the legacy of his own art, Teijo Mitsumasa, like others in his line, appraised and issued origami authenticating important unsigned works of his predecessors. A number of famous and early mainline Goto kodogu bear his signature of certification.

The Kogai and Kozuka shown here, conform to the classic Goto style. Teijo's early production at times resembled Ko-Goto, and his style was influenced by his long association with the Maeda family in Kaga. Although the pieces illustrated here were produced during his middle age, the color of the shakudo, coupled with the design and placement of the art, gives them a real feeling of antiquity, much like Ko-Goto work does. An elegant and formal set like this would almost always have menuki made first in the same design. It is likely a true Mito-koromono with the menuki missing or not being used. These beautiful and perfectly matched fittings are part of a formal wakizashi koshirae belonging to a blade by Nanki Shigekuni.

NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon origami, 2/97