top of page

(鍔ギャラリー⑩) Tsuba Gallery #10

Jingo Tsuba (甚吾鐔)

Japanese Title:   雷文図鐔 (kaminari mon no zu tsuba)
Material:  Iron (tetsu 鉄) 
Age:  Mid to Late Edo Period (江戸時代中期~後期) 
Size:  7.5 cm X 8.0 cm, 3.0 mm at rim
Signature:  mumei (無銘)   
Shape:  Nagamaru-gata (長丸形)  
Surface Finish:  Tsuchime-ji (槌目地) 
Attachment:  None

This is a handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of well forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It was likely mounted and used on a long sword (katana 刀). The main design done in high relief with a worn gold inlay highlights is a familiar key fret or lighting blot pattern (kaminari-mon 雷文) seen in many other types of Japanese art. It is then surrounded by two raised concentric circles the last circle being the rim of the tsuba. The same key fret pattern is broken up into smaller elements on the reverse side of the tsuba. The inter part of the tsuba surface displays a finely hammered texture (tsuchime-ji 槌目地).

The tsuba is likely the work of the 3rd to 5th generation of Shimizu (志水) Family of the Jingo (甚吾) School. They were employed as silversmiths and sword fittings (tōsōgu 刀装具) makers for the Hosokawa (細川) family lords of the province. The school was based in the castle town of Yatsushiro (八代) in Higo Province (肥後國). This work dates from the mid to late Edo Period from 1691 CE until 1854 CE based upon the recorded dates of the lives of the 3rd to the 5th generation Shimizu.

Provenance: Charlie Foos Collection

Ichijō-ippa Tsuba (一乗派鐔)

Japanese Title: 雪華花紋散図鐔 (sekka hana mon chi zu tsuba)   

Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)

Age: Late Edo Period (江戸時代後期)

Size:  6.2 cm X 6.4 cm, 4.6 mm at rim.

Signature: Taganemei (鏨銘)   

Shape: Mokkō-gata (木瓜形) 

Surface Finish: Tsuchime-ji (槌目地)

Attachment: NBTHK Hozon Paper

This is a small handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of very well forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It was likely made for a dagger (tantō 短刀). The stamped and carved design is that of scattered snowflakes (sekka 雪華) intermixed with plum blossoms (ume-hana 梅花). The magnified snowflake is a popular design motif in Japanese art since the importation of Dutch microscopes during the late Edo Period (circa early to mid-19th Century). The design combination of snowflakes and plum blossoms the only flower that blooms during the Winter in late February early March is a unique one.  The same design is continued on the reverse side of the tsuba all the time being intermixed in an exceptionally fine hammered textured (tsuchime-ji 槌目地). The tsuba has a thin plate with a nice raised and folded over rim (uchikaeshi-mimi 打返耳). The tsuba is unsigned (mumei 無銘) it has a clear chisel mark signature (taganemei 鏨銘) around the central opening. The specific artist of the Ichijō School who used this (tagane-mei 鏨銘) was not recorded or the records have been lost.

On December 7, 2015, it was judge and attributed formal appraisal (shinsa 審査) in Tokyo, Japan at the Society for the Preservation of the Japanese Art Sword (NBTHK) to be a work of the Goto Ichijō School (Ichijō-ippa 一乗派).  An appraisal paper (hozon tōsōgu kanteisho 保存刀装具鑑定書) was issued confirming the tsuba is authentic, of good quality, has artistic merit, and is worthy of historical preservation.


Provenance:  Frank Gorelik Collection 

Heianjō Tsuba (平安城鐔)

Japanese Title: 紋様散猪目透鐔

Material:  Iron (tetsu 鉄)

Age: Early Edo Period (江戸時代初期)

Size:  7.2 cm X 7.7 cm, 4.3 mm at rim

Signature:  mumei (無銘)  

Shape: Mokkō-gata (木瓜形)                      

Surface Finish: Tsuchime-ji (槌目地)

Attachment: NTHK Kanteisho Origami (鑑定書折紙)

This is handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It was likely mounted and used on a one-handed sword (uchigatana 打刀) during the early Edo Period circa early to mid-1600s. There are two accessory holes (ryōhitsuana 両櫃孔) only one is likely original. The tsuba has a bold four-lobbed shape (mokkō-gata 木瓜形) with a think square rim (kaku-mimi 角耳). The simple openwork (sukashi 透かし) design at the four corners of tsuba is of stylized boar eyes (innome 猪目).

Pictured on the lower front side is likely a Japanese Weasel (itachi 鼬) (Mustela itatsi). While on the reverse side of the tsuba in the same style of brass carved inlay (shinchū suemon 真鍮据紋) are two family crests (kamon 家紋) only partially visible. On upper and lower sections of both sides of the tsuba is the chrysanthemum crest (kiku-mon 菊紋) also only partially visible. Among the brass inlays on both sides of the tsuba are areas of where the iron has a hammered texture (tetsu-tsuchimeji 鉄槌目地) applied to the surface. I have seen this type of surface texture applied to tsuba made by armorsmiths (Katchūshi 甲冑師).

This tsuba was attributed by the NTHK to be the work of Heianjō (平安城) group circa the early Edo Period. The group was active in and around the city of Heianjō (modern day Kyōto (京都) in Yamashiro (山城) Province from about the end of the Muromachi Period up until the middle of the Edo Period. This tsuba like all of group’s early works is unsigned.

Provenance: Charlie Foos Collection

bottom of page