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(鍔ギャラリー⑬) Tsuba Gallery #13

Sandai Shimizu Tsuba (三代志水鐔)


Japanese Title: 野草の図鐔 (nogusa no zu tsuba)  
Item Number: T202        
Purchase Date: 05/15/2021 
Fair Trade Value: $225  
Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)
Age: Middle Edo Period (江戸時代中期)
Size: 7.7 cm X 8.2 cm, 5.0 mm at rim.
Signature: Jingo (甚吾)    
Shape: Nade mokko-gata (撫木瓜形)
Surface Finish: Arashiji (荒し地)/ Migaki-ji (磨地)
Attachment: None

This is handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of forged iron (tetsu 鉄). Based upon its size and proportions it was likely mounted on a long sword (katana 刀). The overall shape of the tsuba is a rare one and is called (nade mokko-gata 撫木瓜形).1
The front side of the tsuba is plain without a design (mumon 無紋). This plain surface was deliberately made rough and corroded (arashiji 荒し地). The tsuba is signed on the left side: (Jingo 甚吾). There is a possible third character, but it is only partial visible and unreadable by me. The Kanji characters used, signature style, and round notches at either end the central opening for the tang (nakago-ana 中心穴) are all characteristic of the 3rd generation Shimizu (志水) master. His artist’s name was (Nagatsugu 永次), he lived from 1691-1777 CE. This specific tsuba was likely made by him late in his life after the age of 75.2
The reverse side of the tsuba has smooth polished surface (migaki-ji 磨地). The design of wild grasses (nogusa 野草). The form of the grass is cut using line carving (kebori 毛彫) technique. The grass is nicely highlighted with an intentionally worn silver fabric inlays (gin-nunome-zōgan 銀布目象厳) likely representing dew.
Comparing the two sides of the tsuba the dished appearance of the plate while subtle is clearly visible. The rim is raised above the surface of the tsuba and then gently and skillfully worked off (suki-nokoshi-mimi 鋤残耳). The tsuba dishes towards the middle (seppa-dai 切羽台) of the tsuba.1

1.    Tosogu Classroom: Volume 1 by Fukushi Shigeo, translated by Markus Sesko, ©2016 JSS/US, NBTHK-AB, NBTHK-EB.
2.    Works of Hirata and Shimizu by Ito Mitsuru, translated by Markus Sesko, ©2007. 



Provenance: Charlie Foos Collection

Kamakura-bori Tsuba (鎌倉彫鐔)

Japanese Title: ??
Material: Iron (Tetsu 鉄) 
Age: Middle to Late Muromachi Period (室町時代中期~後期) 
Size: 8.3 cm X 8.3 cm, 3.0 mm at rim.  
Signature: Mumei (無銘)   
Shape: Maru-gata (丸形)   
Surface Finish: Migaki-ji (磨地)   
Attachment: None

This is a handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It could have been mounted on a long sword (katana 刀) worn edge up at the waist. The small openwork design (ko-sukashi 小透) with a raised boarder is that of family crest (kamon 家紋). The crest is in the design of a stylized clover (mitsuba 三つ葉) (Cryptotaenia japonica). The front design of the tsuba is that of pine trees (matsu 松) and a landscape of hills and water (san-sui 山水). The reverse is a bit different with the addition of a floral design in place of pine trees.
All the designs on the tsuba are done using a dug away carving style (sukidashibori 鋤出彫) on the plate characteristic of the (Kamakura-bori 鎌倉彫) tsuba group. The thickness of the tsuba plate increases toward the center (seppa-dai 切羽台) and is thinnest along the rim (mimi 耳). The thin rim of the tsuba has an applied cover made of a dark copper-gold alloy (shakudō 赤銅). The (kogai hitsu-ana 笄櫃穴) opening is not original to the tsuba and interrupts the designs. It was added later sometime during the Edo Period and was then subsequently filled in with a nicely textured pewter plug. The soft metal rim cover was also added later sometime during the Edo Period. 1,2
The tsuba is of classic design and dates from the heyday of the Kamakura-bori tsuba style popularity in the old capital of Kyōto (京都) during the middle to late Muromachi Period circa the 15th to mid-16th Centuries.3,4

1.    Art Appreciation of Japanese Sword Fittings by Shigeo Fukushi. ©2012, pg. 233.
2.    Kokusai Tosogu Kai 5th International Convention & Exhibition, ©2009 Nezu Museum Tokyo, Japan, pgs. 21, 37.
3.    Kokusai Tosogu Kai 6th International Convention & Exhibition, ©2010 Vancouver Museum Vacouver, Canada, page 19.
4.    Tosogu Classroom: Volume 1 by Fukushi Shigeo, translated by Markus Sesko, ©2016 JSS/US, NBTHK-AB, NBTHK-EB, pg. 237.

Provenance: Robert Mormile Collection

Katchūshi Tsuba (甲冑師鐔)


Japanese Title: 小菊図鐔 (ko-kikku no zu tsuba)
Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)
Age: Late Muromachi to Azuchi-Momoyama Period (室磨時代後期~安土桃山時代) 
Size: 7.3 cm X 7.5 cm, 3.0 mm at rim, 2.0 mm at seppa-dai.
Signature: Mumei (無銘) 
Shape: Mokkō-gata (木瓜形)  
Surface: Tsuchime-ji (槌目地)
Attachment: Custom
Storage Box and NBTHK Paper

This is handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It was made to be mounted on an early one-handed sword (uchigatana 打刀) worn edge up at the waist. Some of the original black lacquer (kuro-urushi 黒漆), used to prevent rust on the battlefield, is still present in some places on the surface of the tsuba and along the inside surfaces of the negative openwork (in-sukashi 陰透). On the surface of the plate textured with a wonderful, hammered texture (tsuchime-ji 槌目地) and on both sides by a small chrysanthemum shaped chisel. The squared rim with little turn back (kaku-mimi 角耳小肉) of the tsuba was once adorned by a rim cover (fukurin 覆輪) that has long since been lost. This is indicated by notch cut into the rim at the bottom of the tsuba. There is a sword cut mark on the backside of the tsuba that might have facilitated the loss of the rim cover a long time ago.

The tsuba is the work of an armorsmith (katchūshi 甲冑師) and associated blacksmiths. It was made during the late Muromachi Period to the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (muromachi jidai kōki~azuchi momoyama jida 室磨時代後期~安土桃山時代). Very similar small chrysanthemum shaped chisel marks were used by Nobuie (信家). On April 4, 2023, 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 of an armorsmith and associated blacksmiths. An appraisal paper (hozon tōsōgu kanteisho 保存刀装具鑑定書) was issued confirming the tsuba is authentic, of good quality, and is worthy of historical preservation.

Provenance: Kunio Izuka Collection via Bonham's Auction

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