SHIBATA ZESHIN 柴田是真 (1807–1891) TSUBA (SWORD GUARD) WITH RED-PEPPER DESIGN 唐辛子図蒔絵喰出鐔 Meiji era (1868–1912), circa 1870–1890

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Lot 20
SHIBATA ZESHIN 柴田是真 (1807–1891) TSUBA (SWORD GUARD) WITH RED-PEPPER DESIGN 唐辛子図蒔絵喰出鐔
Meiji era (1868–1912), circa 1870–1890

Sold for £ 6,937 (US$ 8,723) inc. premium
SHIBATA ZESHIN 柴田是真 (1807–1891) TSUBA (SWORD GUARD) WITH RED-PEPPER DESIGN 唐辛子図蒔絵喰出鐔
Meiji era (1868–1912), circa 1870–1890
A hamidashi-tsuba (hand guard for a dagger) formed from layers of paper covered in dark grey-brown textured tetsusabi-nuri, further lacquered to mimic the semegane (copper shims in the central opening) and the marks left by the seppa (washers), the front, side, and reverse with a dried red chilli pepper and its stalk in red lacquer and shibuichi-nuri, at the top a rat's footprints in raised tetsusabi-nuri; signed in scratched characters to the left of the central opening Zeshin 是真

5.4cm × 4.1cm × 0.7cm (2⅛in × 1⅝in × ¼in)

With fitted wood storage box labelled Zeshin-ō saku tōgarashi maki-e tsuba 是真翁作 唐辛子蒔絵鍔 (Sword guard with a chilli pepper in maki-e by the venerable Zeshin) (2)

Provenance:
Sold in these Rooms, 5 November 2014, lot 3

Exhibited and Published:
Nezu Bijutsukan (Nezu Museum) 2012, cat. no. 46

Footnotes

  • In his characteristically playful manner Zeshin depicts a chilli pepper, formerly used to keep rats away from stored foodstuffs, and the footprint of a fleeing rat; he also used the pepper motif on a complete sword-mounting made for the superstar storyteller San'yūtei Enchō (1839–1900; see Earle and Gōke 1996, cat. no. 75). According to leading Zeshin scholar Gōke Tadaomi, a secondary significance of the chilli-pepper motif might be that it alludes to the proverb Keshi ga karakerya tōgarashi ga inkyo suru (If the mustard-seed is too strong, the chilli's taste is smothered) and the related word keshikaran, which means something like 'uncouth', 'uncool' or 'non-iki' (Earle and Gōke 1996, p. 20); Zeshin ironically conveys iki (coolness) through an emblem of un-coolness, so to speak.
Contacts
SHIBATA ZESHIN 柴田是真 (1807–1891) TSUBA (SWORD GUARD) WITH RED-PEPPER DESIGN 唐辛子図蒔絵喰出鐔 Meiji era (1868–1912), circa 1870–1890
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