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(鍔ギャラリー⑫) Tsuba Gallery #12

Kōdai Jingo Tsuba (後代甚吾鐔) 

Japanese Title: 雁図鐔 (kari no zu tsuba)

Material: Iron (Tetsu 鉄) 

Age: Late Edo Period (江戸時代後期)

Size:  7.0 cm X 7.6 cm, 2.0 mm at rim, 4.0 mm at seppa-dai.

Signature: Tagane-mei (鏨銘)

Shape: Nagamaru-gata (長丸形)

Surface Finish: Tsuchime-ji (槌目地) 

Attachment: None

This handguard (tsuba 鐔) is made of forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It was likely mounted and use on a long sword (katana 刀). The design is of wild geese flying over a glove of bamboo with mountains in the background. The design is of wild geese (kari 雁) flying is continued on the reverse side of the tsuba, but a stream is included near the bamboo.
The whole decorative design is done using two different carving techniques. The method mostly used for the wild geese and bamboo leaves is a dug away style carving technique (sukidashibori 鋤出彫). The mountain on the from and the stream on backside is carved using line carving technique (kebori 毛彫). The wild geese and bamboo on both sides is highlighted boldly with sliver fabric style inlays (gin nunome-zōgan 銀布目象厳).
The special style of raised rim is wheel in shape (kan-mimi 環耳) and this specific shape is characteristic of the Jingo (甚吾) School. The circular chiseling around the ends of the central tang opening (nakago hitsu-ana 中心櫃穴) are characteristic of the 5th generation Shimizu (志水) Shigenaga (茂永). This type of deliberate chiseling is a signature done by chiseling (tagane-mei 鏨銘). Works by the 5th generation master and his many students are considered the later generation (kōdai 後代) of the Jingo School.   


Provenance: Charlie Foos Collection 

Ko-Kinkō Tsuba (古金工鐔)

Japanese Title:  九曜透かし図鐔 (kuyō sukashi no zu tsuba)

Material: Brass (Sentoku-dō 宣徳銅)

Age: Azuchi-Momoyama Period (安土桃山時代)

Size: 7.8 cm X 8.1 cm, 3.0 mm at rim and 4.0 mm at seppa-dai.

Signature: Mumei (無銘)

Shape: Yatsu-mokkō-gata (八つ木瓜形)

Surface Finish: Random Texture (Jimon 地紋)

Attachment: None

This a handguard (tsuba 鐔) for a long sword (katana 刀). The base metal of the tsuba is brass with a golden hue (sentoku-dō 宣徳銅). The surface texture is random (jimon 地紋) and covered in a fair amount of black lacquer (kuro-urushi 黒漆). The rim of the tsuba is round (maru-mimi 丸耳). The application and distribution of the plate metal (niku-oki 肉置き) is thinnest at the rim and gradually and evenly thickens towards the center (seppa-dai 切羽台) of the tsuba.           
The eight lobbed shape (yatsu-mokkō-gata 八つ木瓜形) of the tsuba is incorporated into openwork design done in negative silhouette (kage-sukashi 影透). The design is that of the of the Nine Luminaries (kuyō hiryaku 九曜秘暦), (Sanskrit: Navagraha) symbolized as eight circular disks arranged into a specific pattern around a ninth centrally located circular disk. This ninth luminary is shown hidden or is perhaps represented by the central opening for sword tang (nakago-hitsuana 中心櫃穴). The Nine Luminaries have their origin in the star rituals of Esoteric Buddhist (Mikkyō 密教). These teachings and rituals began in India and traveled from India to Japan via China. Along the way it was synthesized with elements of Taoism (Onmyō-dō 陰陽道) while in China and later elements of Japanese indigenous folk beliefs (Shinto 神道).
This tsuba I think is the work of an early goldsmiths Ko-Kinkō (古金工) during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (安土桃山時代). Works of this group heavily influenced the later works of Hirata Hikozō (平田彦三) and his various students in Higo Province. This specific stylized openwork design and variations of it were done by Hirata Hikozō and his student Hirata Shōzaburō (平田少三郎) during the beginning of Edo Period. The design was also used to create different family crests and emblems (kuyō-mon 九曜紋) used by the Hosokawa (細川) and other prominent families.


1.    Works of H
irata and Shimizu by Ito Mitsuru, translated by Markus Sesko, ©2007. 
2.    Tosogu Classroom: Volume 1 by Fukushi Shigeo, translated by Markus Sesko, ©2016 JSS/US, NBTHK-AB, NBTHK-EB.
3.    Tantric Buddhism in East Asia “Shugendō, the Traditions of En no Gyōja and Mikkyō”, by H. Byron Earhart, ©2006 Wisdom Publications pages 191-205.   
4.    Kokusai Tosogu Kai 4th International Convention & Exhibition, ©2008, 4-J2 page 33.
5.    The Samurai Collection Kokusai Tosogu Kai 11th International Convention & Exhibition, ©2015, 11-KJ-02 page 15, 11-KM-02 page 17.
6.    Hosokawa clan Wikipedia Article (



Provenance: Charlie Foos Collection

Jakushi Tsuba (若芝鐔)

Japanese Title:: 龍の図鐔 (ryū no zu tsuba)

Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)

Age: End of the Edo Period (江戸時代末期)

Size: 6.7 cm X 7.4 cm, 3.0 mm at rim.

Signature: Omote: Kiyō-sanjin Jakushi (崎陽山人 若芝)
                   Ura: Ryū unken Koretaka + kaō (龍雲軒 是高「花押」)   

Shape: Maru-gata (丸形)

Surface Finish: Yakite-kusarakashi (焼手腐らかし)    

Attachment: None


A forged iron (tetsu 鉄) handguard (鐔). It was likely made for use on a long sword (katana 刀). The design is that of a dragon among fire and clouds of smoke. The dragon’s eyes, clouds of smoke, and flames of fire is colored (iroe 色絵) vividly with gold fabric inlays (kin nunome-zōgan 金布目象嵌) that contrast nicely with dark patina of the heat treated corroded (kusarakashi 腐らかし) surface. Interesting enough the dragon that is pictured on the tsuba is female as indicated by the shape of end of the tail. The plate of the tsuba has a uniform thickness from the middle (seppa-dai 切羽台) towards the rim (mimi 耳). The rim is a rounded square (kaku-mimi koinku 角耳小肉) in shape.

The front of the tsuba is signed by the artist: Kiyō-sanjin Jakushi (崎陽山人 若芝). On the reverse side design continues. It is signed by a second artist: Ryū unken Koretaka + kaō (龍雲軒 是高「花押」). Based upon demographic information I can find in the reference The Index of Japanese Sword Fittings and Associated Artists by Robert E. Haynes the two artists are recorded. The first artist who signed the front (omote 表) is Haynes Index entry number H11981.0. He is recorded as being an artist of Jakushi School who made tsuba and kozuka in the city of Nagasaki (長崎) located in Province of Hizen (肥前國). The recorded date of this death is 1857 CE. The artist signing the reverse (ura 裏) is Haynes Index entry number H03485.0. This artist has a dated piece 1851 CE, and his recorded date of death is September 12, 1878, CE. With this information I can estimate this tsuba being made sometime in the early 1850s before death of the first artist in 1857 CE. The first artist signing the front of the tsuba was likely the teacher and the artist signing the reverse was likely the student.


Provenance: Joe Rigano Collection           

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