(鍔ギャラリー⑪) Tsuba Gallery #11

Satsuma Kinkō Tsuba (薩摩金工鐔)

Japanese Title: 十字紋透鐔 (juji-mon sukashi tsuba)

Material: Shibuichi (四分一) 

Age: Middle Edo Period (江戸時代中期)

Size:  7.0 cm X 7.5 cm, 3.0 mm at rim

Signature:  mumei (無銘)  

Shape: Nagamaru-gata (長丸形)

Surface Finish: Migaki-ji (磨地)

Attachment:  None

 

This is soft metal handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of the copper-gold alloy (shakudō 赤銅). It was likely mounted and used on a long sword (katana 刀). The surface has a highly polish smooth (migaki-ji 磨地) mirror-like finish. The positive openwork (ji-sukashi 地透) design is that of a stylized family crest in the shape of the number ten (juji-mon 十字紋) associated with feudal lords (Daimyō 大名) of Satsuma Province (薩摩國). The openwork design in accented by gold (kin 金) and copper (dō 銅) smooth flat inlays of a chrysanthemum flower and vine pattern. The rounded-square rim (kaku-mimi koniku 角耳小肉) is polished differently than surface (ji 地) of the tsuba creating a dramatic contrast between the two areas.

The left hole for the handle of a small accessory knife (kozuka hitsu-ana 小柄櫃穴) was added later and disrupts the inlay work on one side of the tsuba. This indicates that tsuba was likely remounted more than once on different swords. I think this tsuba dates from the middle Edo Period circa 1750 CE based upon its multiple remounts with modification, quality, and style of the inlay dates. Based upon the theme of the openwork and overall small size for a katana tsuba it was likely made by a goldsmith (kinkō 金工) artist employed by the Shimazu (島津) family the feudal rulers of Satsuma Province. Another theory I have been thinking about is that this tsuba is the work the Kaga Kinkō (加賀金工) group. Additional research and study of available information would be required to confirm either of these ideas as to the tsuba origin.

Provenance: Unknown Purchased from a US Dealer

Kanayama Tsuba (金山鐔)

 

Japanese Title:

Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)

Age: Late Muromachi Period (室町時代後期)

Size: 7.7 cm X 7.7 cm, 5.4 mm at rim.

Signature:  Mumei (無銘)   

Shape:  Maru-gata (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 made to be mounted on a long sword (katana 刀). The positive openwork (ji-sukashi 地透) design is that of stacked rice cakes (mochi 餅) in profile as seen on displays associated with the new year's celebration and offerings made to the fox (kitsune 狐) guardians at shrines for the Shinto God Inari (Inari Ōkami 稲荷大神).

The tsuba rim is rounded-square (kaku-mimi koniku 角耳小肉) in shape characteristic of many early iron tsuba from Owari Province. Many large iron bones (tekkotsu 鉄骨) are present along the rim as well as the surface of the tsuba. The interesting surface features I think are the result of additional heat treatment applied to the plate (yakite shitate 焼手仕立).

Comparing the quality and characteristics of the iron of this tsuba others I have seen I think this is an early Kanayama (金山) tsuba made in Owari Province (尾張國) around the time of the late Muromachi Period circa 1550 CE.

 

Provenance: Eric Molinier Collection

Kumagai Tsuba (熊谷鐔)
 

Japanese Title: 三傘図鍔 (san kasa no zu tsuba) 

Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)

Age: Late Edo Period (江戸時代後期)

Size:  7.5 cm X 8.1 cm, 3.0 mm at rim, 4.5 mm at seppa-dai

Signature:  mumei (無銘)  

Shape: Tatemaru-gata (竪丸形)    

Surface Finish: Migaki-ji (磨地)

Attachment:  None


This is a handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of forged iron (tetsu 鉄). This tsuba was likely used on a long sword (katana 刀). The main inlayed design is of three rain hats (san-kasa 三傘) with straw rope (nawa 縄) ties. Two rain hats (ni-kasa 二傘) with straw robe ties are pictured on the backside (ura 裏) of the tsuba. The surface (ji 地) of both sides is covered with fine radiating file marks (amida-yasuri 阿弥陀鑢) representing Amida Buddha’s radiating aura that have a soft almost melted appearance. To the raised rim (dote-mimi 土手耳) is of silver crosshatching inlay (gin nunome-zōgan 銀布目象嵌) applied in a zigzag design that represent cedar wickerwork (ayasugi 綾杉) pattern.

This iron tsuba is the work of the (Kumagai 熊谷) School of the late Edo Period (江戸時代後期) circa the early to mid-1800s.  The Kumagai School were retainers of the Hosokawa (細川) Family located near their estate in the capital Edo. The school is sometimes referred to as the Edo Higo (江戸肥後) because of it being based in Edo and working in a (Higo kinkō 肥後金工) style.  An alternative theory as to the maker of this unsigned tsuba put forward by some of the previous owners of this tsuba is that this tsuba is the work of a later generation (kōdai 後代) of the Shimizu (志水) School.  The overall elongated round shape with raised rim and well forged iron are all characteristic of the Shimizu School. The texture of the plate iron and patina of this tsuba is wonderful and uncharacteristic of the Kumagai School as discussed by Dr. Kazutaro Torigoye in this book Tsuba Geijutsu-kō (芸術孝) which further may indicate that the tsuba is a late work of the Shimizu School. There was some exchange in the designs and techniques used between the later generations of the Shimizu School specific the 5th generation Shimizu master based in the city of Yatsushiro (八代) in Higo Province who trained some members of the Kumagai School based in the capital Edo. The ayasugi silver inlay pattern done along the raised rim was first employed by the second-generation Shimizu School mater.  Submitting this tsuba for shinsa might allow this tsuba to be better characterized and end the debate.

Provenance: Charlie Foos Collection