Metalwork by Goto Teijo, 9th generation Goto master, Japan (1603–1673)

Workshop of Gotō Yūjō (Japanese, ca. 1440–1512, first-generation Gotō master)
early 17th century
Various woods, ivory and tortoiseshell inlays, gold and silver inlays, metalwork
Koto overall: H. 13 x 24.2 (at head) x L. 189.5cm (5 1/8 x 9 1/2 x 74 5/8in.) Bridge: H. 4.7 x w. 5.2 cm (1 7/8 x 2 1/16 in.) Lacquer box & lid: H. 33 x W. 31 x L. 195.6cm (13 x 12 3/16 x 77in.) Traveling crate: H. 41.9 x W. 43.2 x L. 210.8cm (16 1/2 x 17 x 83in.)
Chordophone-Zither-plucked-long zither
Credit Line:
Purchase, Amati Gifts, 2007
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This rare acquisition is a tour de force of Japanese decorative and musical arts that is currently unparalleled in this country. Although a strong tradition existed before then, the foundation for modern Japanese koto music were formed during the seventeenth century. This koto, with it copious inlay and remarkable metalwork by Teijo, ninth master and perhaps most skilled member of the famous Goto family of metalwork artists, documents this important musical development. It also reflects the status of its owner and the koto's role as a symbol of Japan. All but the instrument's playing areas are exceptionally decorated. Gold crane medallions set against a finely carved diaper pattern adorn the sides, which are framed in a virtuosic rendering of inlaid woods, horn, ivory, and wire that extends onto both the upper and lower surfaces. The ends, of tagayasan and shitan wood, are embellished with geometric inlay patterns and metalwork lions and flowers in ivory frames. The elaborate black lacquered outer case, dating from the early nineteenth century, is decorated with gold makai-e cranes (symbol of the Karasumaru family) and geese, and its interior is lined with gold foil patterned with flying geese. The cloth wrap is composed of two silk embroidered fabrics of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century origin.

  • Provenance

    Early 17th century - presented to Karasumaru Mitsuhiro, noted poet/warrior by daimyo Hosokawa Sansai in recognition of his saving Hosokawa Yusai, Sansai's father and Mitsuhiro's father-in-law.

    Late 1890's - Sawa Eishichi, (Ebisugawa sagaru, karasumaru-dori, Kamikyo-ku, Kyoto) who presented it to the Meiji emperor and empress to view (documentation included with acquisition).

    2005 - De-acquisitioned by the Kozu Kobunkakan, private museum in Kyoto. Many objects from this collection exhibited in Zagreb in 1986.

  • References

    Ed. James R. Houghton. Philippe de Montebello and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977-2008. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, pg. 78-79, fig. 92-93, ill.

    "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1988-1989." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (2007), pg. 25, ill.

  • See also