Mukade 百足 centipede Kozuka
Period: Late Edo period, 19th century
Materials: Iron, Copper, Silver
The ‘kozuka’ is the hilt of a small knife carried within the ‘koshirae’ (fittings) called ‘kogatana’ and is integrated in Japanese ‘nihonto’ culture, as both object of status and as utensil. The ‘kozuka’ is generally integrated within the ‘koshirae’ of the sword, being tucked in the scabbard and within a recess in the ‘tsuba’ (hand guard). The ‘kozuka’ is an implement which was added for functional use, sometimes next to a ‘kogai’ hairpin. During the rather stable Edo period, the decoration of the ‘kozuka’ and other sword fittings underwent a large extension and many hilts can be found in a wide variety of decorations and materials such as bronze, iron, gold and silver.
A fine elegant and subtile design with a traditional background. The centipede ‘mukade’ (百足) is a symbol of aggression and braveness in battle. The centipede only moves forward and therefor it was considered a powerful symbol of courage among the Samurai. During the ‘Warring States’ period (Sengoku) from the 15th til 17th century the centipede was seen as a symbol of victory due to its aggression. The ‘mukade’ is also known among civilians as a sign of fast growing wealth, good sales and an extensive amount of costumers. The ‘mukade’ was therefore favored by both Samurai as merchants.
Condition: Very good, some light ware due to its age.
Provenance: French art market
– The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore acc.nr.51.651
– The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, gilded example with Mukade acc.nr.43.120.612
– Joe Earle’s ‘Lethal Elegance. The art of Samurai sword fittings’ pg. 83 (signed Goto Mitsuyasu).
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