top of page

(鍔ギャラリー③) Tsuba Gallery #3

Hōan Tsuba (法安鐔)

Japanese Title: 輪宝図鐔 (rinpo zu tsuba)

Material: Iron (Tetsu 鉄)

Age: Early Edo Period (江戸時代初期)

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

Signature:  Mumei (無銘)

Shape:  Maru-gata (丸形)

Surface Finish:  Yakite-kusarakashi (焼手腐し)

Attachment:  NBTHK Hozon Paper

This a handguard (tsuba 鐔) made or forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It was made to be mounted on a short sword (wakizashi 脇差). The design showing excellent workmanship is raised above the surface of the plate using a heat and acid based etching method called (yakite-kusarakashi 焼手腐し) this method of carving was often used by the early generations Hōan School. The design is that of the Buddhist Dharma wheel (rinpō 輪宝) (Sanskrit: dharmachakra) with an atypical 16 spokes in place of the more common eight spokes. The sixteen spokes of the Dharma wheel reference the Sixteen Great Enlighted beings (Sanskrit: bodhisattva) of Esoteric Buddhism (Jūroku Daibosatsu 十六大菩薩). The stokes of the wheel are in the shape of double-edged sword blades (ken 剣) often seen on some Buddhist statues and other religious art. The motif also has around the spokes of the wheel strings of Buddhist prayer beads (juzu 数珠). The thin rim has a rounded square shape (kaku-mimi koniku 角耳小肉). Iron bones (tekkotsu 鉄骨) are presence along the rim and are quite notable. The thickness of the plate increases towards the center (seppa-dai 切羽台) from the rim where is it thinnest. On the ura side of the tsuba is a small carved mark, which is likely an old owner’s or collector’s mark.

On May 11, 2016, it underwent formal appraisal (shinsa 審査) in Tokyo, Japan at the Society for the Preservation of the Japanese Art Sword (NBTHK). 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. I estimate this tsuba is an unsigned work of the first or second generation Hōan master. The first generation was named Kawaguchi Saburō´emon Noriyasu (川口三郎右衛門法安) and used Hōan (法安) as his artist’s name. The second generation was Sakuma Yō´emon (佐久間要右衛門) and used the artist’s name Hōan Hisatsugu (法安久次). The tsuba dates from the early Edo Period circa the 17th Century.



Provenance: Purchased from Boris Markhasin of Tosoguya ( at the 2023 Chicago Show.

Nobuie Tsuba (信家鐔)

Japanese Title: ??
Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)
Age: Early Edo Period (江戸時代初期)
Size: 7.8 cm X 8.0 cm, 4.7 mm at rim.
Signature: Nobuie (信家)
Shape: Mokkō-gata (木瓜形)
Surface Finish: Tsuchime-ji (槌目地)
Attachment: None


The is a handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of well forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It has a well-worn signature with wide-spaced Kanji characters at the top and bottom of the (seppa-dai 切羽台). It is signed Nobuie (信家) and is an example of the artist(s) recorded in "The Index of Japanese Sword Fittings and Associated Artists" ID# H 07074.0. There were likely two generations that used this style of signature and worked during the early Edo Period circa 1600-1650 CE. The Society for the Preservation of the Japanese Art Sword (NBTHK) consider all wide-spaced signatures of Nobuie as fake (gimei 偽銘).
The primary design is that of (asagao 朝顔) or three-leaf arrowhead flowers (omodaka 沢瀉). The second design is of an interrupted tortoise shell (kikkō 亀甲)
pattern intermixed with a hammered texture (tsuchime 槌目地). I am still researching the two designs and their significance and meaning of putting them together on this tsuba.
The technique used to create the design is a common dug-away car
ving style (sukidashi-bori 鋤出彫). The surface of the tsuba has a finely hammered texture (tsuchime-ji 槌目地). The tsuba has a nicely raised and folded-over rim (uchikaeshi-mimi 打返耳) with many iron bones (tekotsu 鉄骨) on the surface of the tsuba as well as long rim. The plate of the tsuba is thickest at the rim but then thins nicely towards the center.

Provenance: Provenance: Purchased from Nihontō Shibata (日本刀柴田) at the 2023 Daitōkenichi (大刀剣市) show. 

Kyō-Shōami Tsuba (京正阿弥鐔)

Japanese Title: 竹図透彫鍔 (take no zu sukashi bori tsuba)

Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)

Age: Middle Edo Period (江戸時代中期)

Size:  6.7 cm X 7.2 cm, 3.0 mm at rim

Signature:  mumei (無銘)   

Shape: Tatemaru-gata (竪丸形)

Surface Finish: Tsuchimeji (槌目地)

Attachment: None


This is a handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of well forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It was made for a short sword (wakizashi 脇差) or possibly a shorter long sword (chiisai-katana 小さい刀). The openwork design of bent bamboo and leaves is done using a three dimensional carving style (nikubori ji-sukashi 肉彫地透). The Bamboo is considered a auspicious in Japanese culture and renowned for it resilience even during the cold of Winter. There are small dot inlays (zōgan 象厳) along the the bamboo leaves of brass and sliver that might represent morning dew drops. The rim of the tsuba is rounded (maru-mimi 丸耳) and completely intergraded into the overall decorative motif.


Provenance: Charlie Foos Collection         

bottom of page