(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: Shakudō (赤銅)
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)
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. More research and information would be required to confirm this theory.
Provenance: Unknown Purchased from a US Dealer
Kanayama Tsuba (金山鐔)
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)
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