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Sonobe Yoshitsugu 園部芳継, dated: Summer day in Bunsei (1818-1829)

Certification: Kanzan Sato

Yoshitsugu, 1755-1842, founded the Sonobe School in about 1813. His art name was Tanso. He was a student of Tanaka Yoshiaki (Masayoshi 政芳), who was a pupil of Goto Mitsutomo (Zenjo), of the Ribei Goto family line. The Goto influence is evident in this set of fittings.

The subject depicted is four of the "divine beasts" from Japanese mythology. They are the dragon (ryu), phoenix (ho), turtle with trailing moss on its shell (minogame), and a beast combined from several animals (kirin). 

The menuki (hilt ornaments) depict the ho-bird and kirin, and are done in shakudo, with gold and silver details. Both pieces are unsigned (mumei).

Kogai (hair-pin) and kozuka (small knife handle) depict the minogame, and the dragon with a jewel.  Both are composed of shakudo ground with inserted gold nanako panels having high-relief shakudo figures with gold and silver highlights. The kogai is signed Sonobe Yoshitsugu w/kakihan (seal). The kozuka is signed: A summer day in Bunsei (1818-1829), Tanso Yoshitsugu [made this].

This mito-koromono comes in a kiri-wood box with a letter from Dr. Kanzan Sato, dated April 13, 1951 declaring these a "masterpiece" of Sonobe Yoshitsugu.

Photos by Jack Edick