Another mysterious placeholder…

This is a brief “follow-up” on the article I posted earlier in September here. Looking for something completely different, as always, I came across another example of a strange “placeholder” character in a signature on a tsuba.

This time, it is a square with cross, or ballot box with x, ☒, followed by the name of the artist, Yoshiyuki (美之). As it is just one character, I am hesitant to interpret it as an art name (). Rather, it seems to be more likely that it either stands for a one-character clan name, e.g., Tachibana (橘) or Minamoto (源), or for a one-character family name, maybe the family name (田) by just turning the inner X by 45 degrees?

In their No. 39 spring 1995 special sales catalog Nihontō – Genzon no Yūhin (日本刀・現存の優品), Tōken Shibata speculates that this ☒ could represent the masu crest (枡紋). However, this crest is a box with a single line inside that goes from the bottom left to the top right edge (see picture below).

As for the artist, Yoshiyuki, there is not much info available on him. Haynes lists one using these very characters, and, strangely, there is a reference to an unidentified character as well (see picture below), although in an art name and not just to a single character. So, I don’t think it is a save bet to assume that we are talking about the same artist here and see this reference to an unidentified character as a mere coincidence.

Short post as mentioned, and for now, I am interpreting the signature as “Den Yoshiyuki” (田美之).

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