This piece is signed: 石黒政美彫
Ishiguro Masayoshi Hori (Carved by Ishiguro Masiyoshi). The hori 彫
character is seldom used in his signatures.
Certification: NBTHK Hozon
Masayoshi was born in 1774 and
died in 1862. He was a student of the Ishiguro School's founder, Ishiguro Masatsune I
(1760-1828), and later worked as a retainer for the Shimazu daimyō at their
Edo compound. Masayoshi is one of the most famous masters of the
Ishiguro School, other masters include Masaaki, Masahiro, and
His art names were Jugakusai
寿岳斎, Jugakusai 寿寉斎, Juō 寿翁, Juōsai 寿翁斎, Jurōsai
寿老斎, and Shōzō 庄蔵.
The decoration on this set is subdued
compared to many Ishiguro pieces. The detail is very good and the bird can
be identified as a Japanese "Tree Sparrow", Passer
montanus saturatus. Though it is not possible to know the type of tree
illustrated by the physical evidence, the Ishiguro School often used the
theme of sparrow and plum. The Tree Sparrow and plum (Ume) are fairly common
in Japanese art (two photos bottom left).
The theme of this set of fuchi/kashira
may relate to the story of "Shita-kiri Suzume"
(舌切り雀), "The Tongue-cut Sparrow" (painting by
Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾 北斎, 1760-1849, below right). The modest
decoration of these fittings fits in well with the moral of the
Sparrow" (A gentle, kind, modest
person will garner more favor than a callous, mean, greedy one). Sparrows are generally emblematic of gentleness and friendship in
The decorations on the fuchi are
in the artistic style of Watanabe Shikō, 1683-1755, among others. (See
bottom right painting)
The base metal is shakudō with an
ishimi ground. The decorations are shibuichi, copper, silver, gold, and
Photos by Jack Edick