(鍔ギャラリー④) Tsuba Gallery #4
Gendai Kinkō Tsuba (現代金工鐔)
Japanese Title: 鵬と龍図鐔 (hō to ryū no zu tsuba)
Material: Suaka (素銅)
Age: Meiji Period – Middle Shōwa Period (明治時代～昭和時代中期)
Size: 8.0 cm X 8.0 cm, 5.0 mm at rim, 3.0 mm at seppa-dai
Signature: mumei (無銘)
Shape: Maru gata (丸形）
Surface Finish: Nashiji-ishime (梨子石目)
This handguard (tsuba 鍔) is a vintage reproduction using a mixture of traditional and modern fabrication techniques. It is made of refined copper (suaka 素銅) with a very nice and consistent patina. The overall form of the tsuba was embossed with all the fine details being done by hand using tools (dōgu 道具). Signs of this fine tooling are visible in a few places on both sides of the tsuba. The design is rendered in high relief (takabori 高彫) displays twin phoenixes (hō 鵬) and dragons (ryū龍) representing fundamental dualistic concepts (i.e. Yin and Yang) in Chinese Daoist philosophy.
The original tsuba might have been done in red copper (shakudō 赤銅) made by Goto Ichijo and Tanaka Kiyotoshi at the end of the Edo Period. But this tsuba itself is questionable and signatures not guaranteed. There have been numerous more recent copies of tsuba with this design showing much poorer detail and overall quality being sold on online auction sites in Japan. I am not sure how this tsuba which display much better workmanship, depth, and finish fits in with the more recent poorer quality copies being sold in Japan. It should be noted that this tsuba has been modified and fitted to a blade and shows other clear signs of wear allocated with use it as a sword handguard I would estimate the production period of this tsuba from somewhere as early as the Meiji Period to the middle Shōwa Period from 1868-1951 CE.
Provenance: Tony Funabashi Collection
Price: $250 + Shipping
Kinkō Sukashi Tsuba (金工透鐔)
Japanese Title: 菊花透鐔 (kiku hana sukashi tsuba)
Material: Refined Copper (suaka 素銅)
Age: Late Edo Period (江戸時代後期)
Size: 7.8 cm X 8.0 cm, 6.0 mm at rim
Signature: (mumei 無銘)
Shape: (maru-gata 丸形)
Surface Finish: (migaki-ji 磨地)
A large sword handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of refined copper (suaka 素銅). I think it dates from the late Edo Period (江戸時代後期). The outline of the openwork forms the design (kage-sukashi 影透). It is that of many peddled Chrysanthemum flower (kiku-hana 菊花). These types of bold Chrysanthemum designs are often associated with Japanese Imperial family. The inside surfaces of the openwork show sign of black lacquer (kuro-uroshi 黒漆) as well as some outer parts of the surface near the rim. The rim of the tsuba has a silver cover (gin-fukurin 銀覆輪) applied.
Shōnai Kinkō (庄内金工) School would sometimes use this type of refined copper base with lacquer on their tsuba as reported by Robert Haynes who examined this tsuba in person. I have ever examined enough similar examples in person to confirm this attribution but did read an explanation by Kubo Yasuko in the NBTHK Sword Journal Issue No. 748 discussing this as a characteristic of Shōnai Kinkō workmanship.
Provenance: Richard K. George Collection
Price: $200 + Shipping
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 in 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
Price: $340 + Shipping