Gotō Kōran (後藤光覧)

He was born in the third year of the Bunka era (文化, 1806) and was the younger brother of Gotō Ichijō.

Gotō Mitsutada (Gotō Kōran, 後藤光覧) was born in the third year of the Bunka era (文化, 1806). At birth, he was given the name Tetsusaburō (鉄三郎) he changed his name to Shichirō ́emon (七郎右衛門) later. Mitsutada was the third son of Gotō Jūjō (後藤重乗, 1767-1809) the 4th generation of Ribei (理兵衛) line and the younger brother of Gotō Ichijō (後藤一乗). In some manuscripts and reference books Mitsutada is referred to as Kyūjō (久乗) and it is said that he used the names Mitsukage (光景) and Mitsuyuki (光之).  

Gotō Mitsutada lived in Kyōto and worked in the style of his brother Gotō Ichijō. Mitsutada’s work is much less studied compared to his older brother. A relatively small number of Mitsutada’s works have survived to our time, however, it can be noted that they are all of the highest level and quality. One of the reasons is that he lived a short life and died in the first year of the Meiji era (明治, 1868) at the age of 63.

Gotō Mitsutada signatures examples: The Kinkō Meikan (金工銘鑑) by Masumoto & Kokubo, Tokyo 1974, p. 505.

NBTHK Jūyō soroi-kanagu by Gotō Kōran

Designated as JūyōTōsōgu at the 35th jûyô-shinsa held on April 14, 1989.

A set of metal fittings with motifs of Kasugano, Yoshino and Tatsuta

Fukuoka prefecture, Mibuchi Hiroyasu

Tsuba mei: Kōka boshin (year 1848) kore wo horu Gotō Kōran (Mitsutada), kaō

Menuki split tanzaku mei: Gotō Kōran (Mitsutada)

Fuchi mei: tōfuku Gotō Kōran (Mitsutada), kaō

Measurements: tsuba vertical length - 7.1 cm; horizontal length - 6.45cm; thickness of the mimi - 0.2cm;

fuchi length - 3.8 cm; width - 2.0 cm; height - 0.95 cm; kashira length - 3.4cm; width - 1.6 cm; height - 0.5 cm.

Materials and form: tsuba tatemaru-gata [shape],shakudō [alloy], nanako surface, taka-bori iro-e [carving technique], two hitsu-ana; menuki made of rōgin [alloy], katachi-bori [carving technique], shakudō [alloy] zōgan (inlay); fuchi and kashira made of shakudō [alloy], nanako surface, taka-bori iro-e [carving technique].

Age: end of Edo period.

Commentary: Gotō Kyūjō (Kōran, Mitsutada) was the son of 4th generation head of Shichirōemon family, which was a sub-line of Gotō clan. He was bornin 3 year of Bunka era (1806) in Kyōto. His true older brothers were Mitsuhiro and Ichijō. He inherited Shichirōemon family’s leadership as the 5th head of the family, and in later years was bestowed with hōkyō title. He died in the 1 year of the Meiji era (1868). His true son Mitsuhira become the 17th head of mainline Gotō clan under the name of Tenjō. 

This work is depicting Kasugano plain on tsuba, which is a motif popular from old times, being a view near Kasuga shrine in Nara [city].Fuchi and kashira depict Yoshino mountains and Tatsuta river, which are places famous for cherry blossoms and maple leaves. Menuki use only one color of rōgin [alloy] to depict komainu (lion-dogs) neatly, both of them are “A”-shaped with open mouths. 

The compositions on tsuba, fuchi and kashira are all dexterous; carvings are of the high level reminding of Ichijō works. Many different non-ferrous metals are used in the works to enhance the color effect.

Gotō Mitsutada died at a relatively early age and therefore few of his works have survived to this day. His skill level was comparable to that of Gotō Ichijō, and some of his works show a completely unattainable level of quality and artistic taste. An extremely rare example is this work presented here, which, due to its high quality, has been awarded a publication in the Nihonto Taikan (日本刀大鑑, Honma Junji (本間順治), Satō Kan’ichi (佐藤貫一) and others, 1966–1972).

The Nihonto Taikan, volume VI, p. 372-373.

 612. Tsuba with a motif of Kasugano, mei: Kōka boshin (1848) kore wo horu (carved this) Gotō Mitsutada, kaō. Measurements: vertical length 7.1 cm, horizontal length 6.5 cm, thickness0.4cm

Materials and form: tatemaru-gata [shape], shakudō [alloy] with nanako surface, taka-bori iro-e [carving technique], two hitsu-ana 

Commentary: A motif of a plain with a troop of deerand stone lanterns is usually called Kasugano. It is a view of a plain near Kasuga shrine in Nara [city], the mountains in the distance on the face side are Mt. Mikasa, it is a motif that has been popularfrom old times. Mitsutadawas a younger brother of Gotō Ichijō, he was a kinkō smith living in Kyōto. Thus all [of his works] are similar to Ichijō’s. Kōka boshin was a 5th year of Kōka [era], there was a change of the name of the era and it became 1st year of Kaei, so this is a work of 58-years-old Mitsutada. Some of his works are signed as “Kōto-jū” (living in the emperor’s capital). (Numata) 

613. Fuchi and kashira with a motif of Yoshino and Tatsuta, mei: tōfuku Gotō Mitsutada, kaō 

Measurements: fuchi vertical length 3.8 cm, horizontal length 2.0 cm; thickness 1.0 cm; kashira vertical length 3.8 cm, horizontal length 1.8 cm, thickness 0.7 cm

Materials and form: shakudō [alloy] with nanako surface, taka-bori iro-e [carving technique] 

Commentary:. The kashira depicts sakura flowers in full bloom being close and in the distance on peaks and valleys of Yoshino divided with mist. The perspective is reached with taka-bori [technique]. Iro-e uses various colors [of metals], shakudō for tree trunks, silver for flower petals, and gold for leaves, it is skillfully giving a sense of realistic depiction. Fuchi is made as a match for kashira, depicting a pairing view of fall leaves on Tatsuta river, techniques and style are the same with kashira. Mitsutadawas a younger true brother of Gotō Ichijō, he died on the first year of Meiji [era]. The motif depiction is overdone, there is no free space and it gives a feeling of being crammed. (Numata) 

614. Komainu (statues of mythical lion-dogs) menuki, split tanzaku-mei: Gotō Mitsutada 

Materials and form: rōgin [alloy], katachi-bori [carving technique] 

Commentary: Komainu figures placed in shintō shrines are usually in two shapes, “A” (open mouth) and “Un” (closed mouth). But these menuki have both of them “A”-shaped with open mouths, the delicate carving is very elaborate. The fact that no other metal is mixed in here is good, giving a sense of purity. (Tsujimoto) 

Hand made wood box for Gotō Mitsutada set.

Inscription: 春日山図揃金具 後藤高覧一作 

Translation: kasugayama-zu soroi-kanagu Gotō Kōran issaku.

(soroi is a set of fittings were made by the same master and have to be regarded as identical in terms of motif; kanagu is a term for “metal fittings”; issaku is a term for fittings were made en suite by one kinkō master.)

Hakogaki by Satō Kanzan (Kan’ichi) (佐藤寒山 [貫一], 1907–1978).











Translation: Menuki – silver shibuichi [alloy], katachi-bori [carving technique], golden split tanzaku mei [signature] Gotō Mitsutada. Fuchi and kashira shakudō [alloy] with nanako surface, taka-bori iro-e [carving technique]. Mei [signature] tōfuku Gotō Mitsutada, kaō. Tsuba – tatemaru-gata [shape], shakudō [alloy] with nanako surface, taka-bori iro-e [carving technique]. Mei: Kōka boshin (1848) kore wo horu (carved this) Gotō Mitsutada, kaō. An outstanding set of metal fittings, rare and important. On a day of 4th month of Shōwa kōjutsu (1970). Appraised by Kanzan [2 seals] 

Translations of NBTHK papers were made by Vadim Bushmakin.

Original content Copyright © 2021 Dmitry Pechalov