(鍔ギャラリー⑤) Tsuba Gallery #5

Tachi Tsuba (太刀鐔)

 
Japanese Title:  双龍唐草文図鐔 (so-ryu, karakusa mon zu tsuba)
Material: Brass (shinchu 真鍮)  
Age: Bakumatsu - Meiji Period (幕末~明治時代) 
Size:   6.9 cm X 7.7 cm, 5.4 mm at rim, 2.6 at center.     
Signature:  Mumei (無銘)        
Shape:  Tate-maru gata (竪丸形) 
Surface Finish: Migaki-ji (磨地)
Attachment: Custom Wooden Storage Box

This is a rare Chinese single-edged sword (dāo 刀) handguard made of brass (shinchu 真鍮).  It was repurposed and modified with the addition of a (seppa-dai 切羽台) to fit a Japanese sword worn edge down (tachi 太) as a handguard (tsuba 鐔). The front has a carved twin dragon (so-ryu 双龍) motif among a background of vines (karakusa 唐草) the designs of paired dragons among a background of vines is a motif that dates to antiquity in China. The carved design on the reverse side is of a hidden dragon in clouds has been added later and doesn't have the same workmanship style as the front. The handguard based upon some of the information I was given, and its design has been in Japan since about the end of the Edo Period (circa 1853 CE) until the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912 CE) when it was imported from Qing Dynasty China.

Provenance:  Fine Swords (Ginza Choshuya: https://www.choshuya.co.jp/finesword-top)

Jingo Tsuba (甚吾鐔)

 
Japanese Title:  菊花図鐔 (kiku-hana no zu tsuba) 
Material:  Iron (tetsu 鉄)             
Age:  Middle Edo Period (江戸時代中期) 
Size:  7.8 cm X 7.8 cm 3.0 mm at rim  
Signature:  mumei (無銘)  
Shape:  Maru gata (丸形) 
Surface Finish:
Attachment:  None

This sword handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of very well forged iron (tetsu 鉄). This guard was likely mounted and used on a long sword (katana 刀). The carved and gold inlaid (kin-zōgan 金象厳) design is of a stylized chrysanthemum flower (kiku-hana 菊花). The same design stylized in a bit different way is replicated on the reverse side of the tsuba. The ring-shaped rim (kan-mimi 環耳) is very characteristic of Jingo School. The workmanship and design of this tsuba is excellent. While this tsuba requires more study, I think it is the work of a mid-generation of the Shimizu (志水) family based in castle town of Yatsushiro (八代) in Higo Province (肥後國).

Provenance:  Charlie Foos Collection

Fukunobu Tsuba (深信鐔)

 
Japanese Title:  松樹透鐔 (masu ju sukashi tsuba)  
Material:  Iron (tetsu 鉄)     
Age:  Late Edo Period (江戸時代後期)  
Size:  7.0 cm X 7.5 cm, 4.5 mm at rim, 4.8 mm at center
Signature:  mumei (無銘)   
Shape:  Mokkō-gata (木瓜形)         
Surface Finish:  Migaki-ji (磨地)          
Attachment:  NTB Paper

This is a handguard (tsuba 鐔) made of forged iron (tetsu 鉄). It is sized for use on a long sword (katana 刀). The design done in positive openwork (ji-sukashi 地透) is that of pine tree (matsu-ju 松樹). The details of the design are nicely finished using hairline carving (kebori 毛彫). The tsuba displays an extremely smooth polished surface with a reddish-black patina characteristic of the Kamiyoshi (神吉) School.
The design of a pine tree is itself uncommon for the Kamiyoshi School, but they did have it as a sketch in their design book and I have seen other tsuba attributed to the Kamiyoshi School with a similar pine tree design. The Kamiyoshi School for the most part favored doing more abstract and stylized designs executed with an extremely refined polished surface.  The NTB attributed the tsuba to be the work of Fukunobu (深信) who was the second generation of the Kamiyoshi (神吉) School to have made tsuba on a full-time basis for the Hosokawa Family. He lived from 1798-1851 CE. The direct attribution to Fukunobu was likely due to the characteristic punch mark pattern around the (nakago hitsu-ana 中子櫃穴) on the front side of the tsuba.

Provenance:  Charlie Foos Collection