(鍔ギャラリー④) Tsuba Gallery #4

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

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)  
Attachment:  None

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

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