Fudo Tsuba By Female Artisan Josui of the Murakami School

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The Murakami school (村上)

Murakami Jochiku (村上如竹)
Unfortunately, Jochiku’s master is unknown but is is transmitted that
he first applied zōgan inlays to stirrups (abumi, 鐙) under the name of
„Nakanori“ (仲矩) in Kanazawa (金沢). We also know the craftsman
name of Mitsunori“ (光則) and his first name „Seijirō“ (清次郎). He
was active from about Meiwa (1764-1772) to Tenmei (1781-1789) in
Edo´s Shinmonzen district (新門前町) and used the gō „Kanshōdō“
(観笙堂) and „Yūkokuken“ (幽谷軒). Because of the use of the
character „shō“ (笙) in the former pseudonym – a wooden mouth organ
– it is assumed that he also played that instrument. An important
reference for this artist and his production site is the extant signature:
„Bushū San´en-zan-roku ni oite Akabane no hotori Murakami Seijirō
Nyūdō Jochiku Mitsunori saku“ (武州三緑山麓於赤羽辺村上清次郎
入道如竹光則作, „made by Murakami Seijirō Mitsunori, nyūdō-gō
´Jochiku´, at the foot of Mt. San´en at Akabane*69 in Musashi
province“). Jochiku´s year of birth and death are unknown but we know
of pieces which are at least signed with the supplement „made at the age
of 65“. Regarding his style, the ornamentation takes quite a large place
on the ground plate and is mostly inlayed in suemon and carved in
takabori. Because his origins were that of a zōgan artist, many pieces
show excellent hira-zōgan applications. But the Murakami style refrains
mostly from additional kebori or katakiribori. Another characteristic of
the school is the slightly uneven surface finish, the so-called „chirimenishime“ (縮緬石目, lit. „silk crepe ishime“) or „kawa-ishime“ (革石目,
lit. „leather ishime“). Motifs of dragonflies, butterflies and fish were
daring for his time and novel in their realism.
*69 „San´en-zan“ is the so-called „mountain name“ of Tōkyō´s Zōjō-ji (増上寺) and Akabane the
corresponding district.

Other artists of the Murakami family
Johaku (如柏) – his first name was „Wasuke“ (和助) – was first the
student of Jochiku but was later adopted by him as successor.
Accordingly, he followed as 2nd gen. Jikuchi after the death of the
master, using the name „Shōeiken Jochiku“ (松英軒如竹).
Interestingly, there is a work extant which bears the signature Shōeiaratame nidai Jochiku“ (松英改め二代如竹, „2nd gen. Jikuchi, name
changed to ´ Shōei´“).
The records are in disagreement about Masanori (正則). His first
name was „Tadashichi“ (唯七) and one refers to him as the younger
brother of Jochiku and the others as his son or also as his adopted
student. He worked entirely in the Murakami style and trained several
students himself, whose craftsman names always start with the
character „Nori“ (則). Another adopted son of Jochiku was Jokyō
(如笻) who is listed with the reading „Jogu“ in the Haynes-Index.
„Kyō“ (笻, Chin. „quióng“) is the name of a Chinese bamboo and so it
is assumed that Jokyō took this character in an allusion to his master
and adoptive father („chiku“ (竹) means „bamboo“). Haynes also lists
another way of writing the name „Jokyō“, namely (如筇), which is read
accordingly as „Jotsue“.

Anyway, the second character of this name has the same meaning as
the former one, i.e. a special kind of Chinese bamboo. In addition, there
is a pair of menuki extant which bears the signature Jochū“ (如中)
*70
and it is assumed that all the three names go back to the very same
artist.
Old publications also list two daughters for Jochiku, namely Josui
(如水) and Jotetsu (如鉄). The „Sōken-kishō“ says that Josui came
originally from Kyōto´s Kamo family (加茂) and studied in Edo under
Jochiku. There are some kinkō works known which bear the signature
„Josui“ but which go back to the hand of different artists, like for
example the Mito-kinkō Josui who was a student of Sekijōken
Motozane (赤城軒元孚).