Metropolitan Museum 1974.268.11

Late 7th - Early 8th C


This leaf shaped bowl employs many of the techniques used by later Japanese sword fitting makers. There is gold overlay, nanako and various styles of carving. This level of work is the rule rather than the exception for Tang. This is my photo through the glass, which does not do the work justice.

Detail of Jen-sheng fragment. Paper on silk.

Eighth century, Shosho-in

"The Silk Road and the Shoso-in" Ryoichi Hayashi

Note the similarity to the leaf and flower sukashi designs seen in Tosho and Katchushi style tsuba. This shows that these motifs were in circulation well before they were used for openwork on mempo. There is no reason to believe that early professional tsuba makers had to take their designs from armor.

Door pull of Phoenix hall. Iron with copper inlay; diameter 9 cm

ca. 1053, Byodo-in, Uji, Kyoto

"Heian Temples: Bydo-in and Chuson-ji" Toshio Fukuyama

It is interesting how much the iron backing plate resembles an old iron tsuba, including the patina, the boar's eye sukashi and the shape. In addition, the inlay is something that is usually associated with much later work. While this could be a later replacement, the possibility that this sort of work was being done in the 11th C is an interesting data point. It is plausible that the same professional iron workers could be making fittings for both swords and buildings. The gilt metal work of earlier Buddhist objects often looks strikingly similar to that seen on Kofun sword fittings. The inlay on the pull rather resembles Umetada work, which is also quite fascinating. Each part of it is a beautiful metal work.

On to see early Koshirae