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(鍔ギャラリー⑨) Tsuba Gallery #9

Owari Tsuba (尾張鐔)

Japanese Title: 紋散透鐔 (mon-chirashi sukashi tsuba) 
Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)
Age: Early to Middle Edo Period (江戸時代初期~中期)
Size: 7.7 cm X 7.7 cm, 5.6 mm at rim.
Signature: Mumei (無銘)    
Shape: Maru-gata (丸形) 
Surface Finish: Migaki-ji (磨地)  
Attachment: NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Paper

This is a handguard (tsuba 鐔) for a long sword (katana 刀). It is made from very well forged iron (tetsu 鉄). The positive openwork (ji-sukashi 地透) is a complex one consisting of many scattered heraldic symbols. The texture of the tsuba feels smooth to the touch (migaki-ji 磨地). The tsuba has a spacer made of the copper gold alloy (shakudō 赤銅) to fit the other fittings of a particular sword. The round shaped (maru-gata 丸形) has a rim that is rounded square in shape (kaku-mimi koniku 角耳小肉). Many large iron bones (tekkotsu 鉄骨) are visible along the thick rim of the tsuba.
I think it is a later work of the Owari (尾張) group circa the early to mid-Edo Period. On April 1, 2022, 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 Owari (尾張) group. An appraisal paper (tokubetsu hozon tōsōgu kanteisho 特別保存刀装具鑑定書) was issued confirming the tsuba is authentic, of exceptional quality and artistic merit, and is worthy of historical preservation.

Provenance: Unknown purchased from a US based Japanese antiques dealer. 

Kamakura Tsuba (鎌倉鐔)


Japanese Title: 二丸線図鐔 (ni maru sen zu tsuba)   

Material:  Iron (tetsu 鉄) 

Age: Early Muromachi Period (室町時代初期) 

Size:  8.3 cm X 8.3 cm, 2.0 mm at rim, 3.0 mm at center

Signature:  Mumei (無銘)      

Shape:  Maru-gata (丸形) 

Surface Finish:  Migaki-ji (磨地) 

Attachment:  Wooden storage box with an inscription (hakogaki 箱書き).


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 or mounted on an earlier style of long sword (tachi 太刀) worn edge down at the waist while riding on horseback.
The simple but very bold design of two sets of concentric circles. The circles are cut using a dug away carving style (sukidashibori 鋤出彫). The carving style is reminiscent of a lacquer ware carving style imported into Japan from China during the Kamakura Period (Kamakura-bori 鎌倉彫) and was incorporated artistically on other objects by the Muromachi Period. The design is replicated on the reverse side as well. I am unsure of the meaning of this design, but quality of thin forged iron plate is remarkable. The tsuba has a slightly raised and worked off rim (sukinokoshi-mimi 鋤残耳).  
Tsuba like this are likely work of an early armorsmith (Ko-Katchūshi 古甲冑師) and can be subclassified as being a work of the Kamakura (鎌倉) group based on style of carving used to render the design. The tsuba dates from the early Muromachi Period circa 1336-1400 CE. A previous owner of the tsuba in an anonymous inscription on the lid of the wooden storage box (hakogaki 箱書き) attributed this tsuba to being the work of an early swordsmith (Ko-Tōshō 古刀匠) and refers to the design on the tsuba as two circle lines (ni-maru senzu 二丸線圖).   


Provenance: Kunio Izuka Collection via Bonham's Auction

Owari Tsuba (尾張鐔)

Japanese Title: 時計図透鍔 (tokei no zu sukashi tsuba) 
Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)
Age:  Azuchi-Momoyama Period (安土桃山時代)  
Size:  6.8 cm X 7.1 cm, 8.2 mm at rim, 6.0 mm near the seppa-dai.
Signature: Mumei (無銘)   
Shape:  Maru-gata (丸形)
Surface Finish: Tsuchime-ji (槌目地) 
Attachment: None

This is a handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of forged iron (tetsu 鉄). The tsuba displays a nicely textured fine hammer worked surface (tsuchime-ji 槌目地). The bold positive openwork (ji-sukashi 地透) design is that of a gear from a western style clock (tokei 時計). The same design is continued on the reverse side of the tsuba. The tsuba has a rounded-square shape rim (kaku-mimi koniku 角耳小肉). The thick rim displays many large iron bones (tekkotsu 鉄骨). The tsuba is very thick at the rim and noticeably thins towards the center where the seppa would be when placed (seppa-dai 切羽台).

I estimate based upon the workmanship, materials used, and style of the design that the tsuba dates from about the Azuchi-Momoyama Period circa the late 16th Century.


Provenance:  Dale Garbutt Collection

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