(鍔ギャラリー④) Tsuba Gallery #4

Tenpo Tsuba
Tenpo Tsuba

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Tenpo Tsuba
Tenpo Tsuba

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Tenhō Tsuba (天法鐔)

Japanese Title:

Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)

Age: Late Edo Period (江戸時代後期)

Size: 9.1 cm X 8.6 cm, 5.4 mm at rim

Signature: (kokuin 刻印 [天])   

Shape: Tatemaru-gata (竪丸形)

Surface Finish: Tsuchimeji (槌目地)

Attachment: None

This is a large handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of very well forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It was likely mounted and used on a long sword (katana 刀).  The bold design is that heavily hammered surface (tsuchimeji 槌目地) made to simulate a weather worn stone surface. The rim (mimi 耳) is round-square (kakumaru-gata 角丸形) in shape. Among the rough surface are hot stamps (kokuin 刻印) of the Kanji character for (ten 天). As this style of tsuba were made by the (Tenhō 天法) group it might be a form of partial signature. The group’s name can also be read as “Tenpō”. This tsuba likely dates to the late Edo Period circa late 18th to the early 19th Century.

Provenance: Purchased from a US based Japanese Antiques Dealer

Yagyū Tsuba (柳生鐔)
Yagyū Tsuba (柳生鐔)

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Yagyū Tsuba (柳生鐔)
Yagyū Tsuba (柳生鐔)

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Yagyū Tsuba (柳生鐔)

Japanese Title: 波車の図透かし鐔 (nami-guruma no zu sukashi tsuba)

Material: Iron (Tetsu 鉄) 

Age: Middle Edo Period (江戸時代中期)

Size:  7.4 cm X 8.1 cm, 4.9 mm at rim.

Signature: Mumei (無銘)  

Shape: Mokkō-gata (木瓜形)      

Surface Finish: Tsuchime-ji (槌目地)

Attachment: Custom Wood Storage Box

This a handguard (tsuba 鐔) and is made of forged iron (tetsu 鉄). The overall shape of the tsuba is a fine (mokko-gata 木瓜形). The positive openwork design carved in three dimensions (nikubori-ji-sukashi 肉彫地透) consists of ocean waves surrounding a wheel (nami-guruma 波車). The same design done is the same style continues to the reverse of the tsuba. The thicker rim shows nicely the layers of forged iron used to construct the plate of the tsuba. The shape of the rim rounded square in shape kaku-mimi-koniku 角耳小肉). The layers of forged iron are also visible along the inside surface of the openwork as well. 
Ocean waves surrounding a single twelve spoke wheel appears in the original set of 110 core designs recorded in a historical reference book of (yagyū tsuba 柳生鐔) by Inaba Tsuryu at the end of the 18th Century. This design is recorded twice in the book as design number #53 and #54.1,2 
Since this openwork design itself is part of the original core set of 110 designs this tsuba was likely made during the first or second period of Yagyū tsuba production during the middle of the Edo Period.3 All Yagyu tsuba were originally commissioned works made upon request of the headmaster of the Yagyū Shinkage Ryū a school of Japanese swordsmanship based in Owari Province by many different fitting artists. I think this tsuba was the anonymous work of the Shōami (正阿弥) School based upon the overall style and techniques used render the design.
I think this is a Yagyū Tsuba (柳生鐔) circa the middle Edo Period. I am submitting this tsuba to NBTHK (tōsōgu shinsa 刀装具審査) in February 2022 for a more complete appraisal and conformation of my attribution.   

                  

References:

  1. Yagyū Tsuba by Jim Gilbert, © 2006 NBTHK – American Branch

  2. The Haynes Yagyū Design Book © 2014 NBTHK – American Branch

  3. Personal Communication with Robert E. Haynes. September 22, 2021.

 

Provenance: Purchased from a US based Japanese Antiques Dealer

Kōdai Hōan Tsuba (後代法安鐔)
Kōdai Hōan Tsuba (後代法安鐔)

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Kōdai Hōan Tsuba (後代法安鐔)
Kōdai Hōan Tsuba (後代法安鐔)

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Kōdai Hōan Tsuba (後代法安鐔)

 

Japanese Title: 藤紋図鍔 (Fuji mon no zu tsuba)

Material: Iron (tetsu 鉄)

Age: Middle to Late Edo Period (江戸時代中期~後期)

Size: 7.5 cm X 7.3 cm, 4.0 mm at rim

Signature: mumei (無銘)

Shape: Maru-gata (丸形)

Surface Finish: Migaki-ji (磨地)

Attachment: NBTHK Hozon Tōsōgu Kanteisho ID# 4006264

This sword guard (tsuba 鐔) is the work of later generation of the (Hōan 法安) School during the middle Edo Period.  The tsuba is likely the work of the 5th or the 6th generation Hōan who officially worked from 1731 until around 1799 as a tsuba maker for the Asano Family (淺野氏) that ruled Hiroshima Domain (Hiroshima-han 広島藩) in Aki Province (安芸國). The bold and noble design on the front and back of the tsuba is a family crest (kamon 家紋) consisting of stylized hanging wisteria flowers and leaves (fuji-mon 藤紋).

This tsuba would have been mounted and used by a retainer serving a lord that used this family crest. This specific family crest design was in use by the court nobles (kuge 公家) of the Fujiwara (藤原) family as well as the Itō (伊藤) family who were mid-level feudal lords (daimyō 大名) during the Edo Period and were an early branch of the Fujiwara family descended from Fujiwara no Korekimi (藤原是公). A later 12th century southern branch of the Fujiwara family also used the name Itō that descended from the court noble Fujiwara no Sukechika.

The design 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 and was successfully transmitted to and utilized by later generations. The design is also then highlighted nicely among the dark blackish patina of the iron using a silver fabric inlay technique (gin nunome zō 銀布目象). Starting with the third generation Hōan master the use of these type of inlays of gold and silver became more and more common on their tsuba made of iron.   The edge of the tsuba displays a roundish square rim (kaku mimi ko-niku 角耳小肉) a characteristic of tsuba made by this School who has its origin in Owari Province (尾張國).

The appraisal paper (hozon tōsōgu kanteisho 保存刀装具鑑定書) by the (Nihon Bijutsu Hozon Kyokai 日本美術刀剣保存協會) (NBTHK), Society of the Preservation of the Japanese Art Sword, designating it to be of good quality, authentic, and worthy of historical preservation. The paper was issued on January 16, 2015. The attribution as discussed above is to a nonspecific later generation (kōdai 後代) of the Hōan School.

Provenience: Curran Campbell Collection