(鍔ギャラリー①) Tsuba Gallery #1

Yamakichibei Tsuba (山吉兵鐔)

Japanese Title: 家紋図透鐔 (kamon no zu shukashi tsuba)

Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)

Age: Early Edo Period (江戸初期)

Size: 7.0 cm X 7.6 cm, 4.7 mm at rim

Signature: Yamakichibei (山吉兵へ)

Shape: Tate-maru gata (竪丸形)

Surface Finish: Yakite shitate (焼手仕立)

Attachment: None

This is a handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It was likely mounted and used on long sword (katana刀) with a large accessory knife (ō-kozuka 大小柄). The oversized accessory hole was later filled in with a lead pug (ume 埋). The plate surface (ji 地) shows exceptionally fine radiating file marks (amida-yasurime 阿弥陀鑢目) on top of an additional heat treatment (yakite 焼) applied to the plate. This is evident by the great number of iron bones (tekkotsu 鉄骨) seen on the surface intermixed with the fine file marks. The iron bones are also clearly visible along the rim.  The tsuba shows a classic turned-up shaped rim (uchikaeshi-mimi 打返耳) that raises boldly above the plate surface. The overall shape of this tsuba is an elegant oval (tate-maru gata 竪丸形) that is uncharacteristic of the second-generation master who favored a more perfect round shape (maru gata 丸形).

The small openwork (ko-sukashi 小透) design is a family crest (kamon 家紋). I would need to do more research to determine what the crest is. I have attributed this signed tsuba based upon the workmanship to be the work of the second generation Yamakichibei master using the methods outlined in the book Owari to Mikawa no Tankō (尾張と三河の鐔工) by Okamoto Yasukazu. He worked in Owari Province (尾張國) near Nagoya Castle around the (Kan'ei 寛永) Era (1624-1644 CE) during the early Edo Period (江戸時代). In the same book the author commented that Yamakichibei works with false signatures (gimei 偽銘) made by other tsuba makers of Owari Province date early and can display excellent workmanship such as this tsuba.

In April 2018 it was formally apprised (shinsa 審査) by the Society for the Preservation of the Japanese Art Sword (NBTHK) to have a false signature (gimei 偽銘). Regardless of the authentically of the signature this tsuba displays all the wonderful workmanship characteristics of works made by the second generation Yamakichibei.

Provenance: Steve Waszak Collection

Hirata Tsuba (平田鐔)

 
Japanese Title:  七宝図鐔 (shippō no zu tsuba)
Material:  Iron (tetsu 鉄) 
Age:  Late Edo Period (江戸時代後期)
Size:  8.0 cm X 8.4 cm, 4.0 mm at the rim     
Signature:  Mumei (無銘) 
Shape:  Maru gata (丸形) 
Surface Finish:  Tsuchime-ji (槌目地)
Attachment:  None

 This is armorsmith’s (Katchushi 甲冑師) handguard (tsuba 鐔) dating from the Muromachi Period (室町時代) that was modified during the late Edo Period. The old plate shows a genuinely nice, hammered texture (tsuchime-ji 槌目地) characteristic of early iron tsuba. The small open work design (ko-sukashi 小透) has been described on other tsuba as raindrops (mizuho 水玉). It was modified with the addition of gold wire lined cloisonné (kin-shippō 金七宝) in the design of small flower arrangements. A raised and polished copper rim cover has been applied to the tsuba likely at the same time as the cloisonné inlays were added. This additional work appears to be by a later generation of the Edo based Hirata (平田) School directly employed by the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Provenance: Curran Campbell Collection

Yamakichi Tsuba (山吉鐔)

 

Japanese Title:  Japanese Title:  蛙目図鐔 (Gaerome no zu tsuba)       
Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)       
Age: Late Edo Period (江戸時代後期)  
Size:  8.0 cm X 8.8cm, 3.0 mm at seppa-dai, 4.5 mm at rim  
Signature:  Yamakichi (山吉)  
Shape:  Mokkō-gata (木瓜形)
Surface Finish:  Tsuchime-ji (槌目地)        
Attachment:  None

This is a sword handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of very well forged iron (tetsu 鉄) for a large sword (katana 刀). It is signed Yamakichi (山吉). On both sides of the tsuba is exceptionally fine carved radiating file marks similar in style to a halo of a Buddha (amida-yasurime 阿弥陀鑢目) or the rays of the morning sun. The small circles around the accessory holes are commonly referred to as 'frog's face' (gaerome 蛙目). Always numbering five in total, considered a lucky number, this was a unique artistic motif associated with the later generations of Yamakichi produced in Owari Province. The tsuba displays a nicely turned-up rim (uchikaeshi-mimi 打返耳) with numerous fine iron bones (tekkotsu 鉄骨).

Provenance: Unknown US Collector