More Shoami Tsuba

kokyoshoami tsuba

Kyo Shoami tsuba, mu mei, ca. Momoyama to early Edo

7.9 cm H x 8.1 cm W x 0.4 cm T

Iron with some surface carving

Maru gata

Maru mimi

This tsuba could be as early as ca. 1500. The slight rounding of the edges of the sukashi is unusual. The iron has a reddish purple color to it. It is probably quite hard.


Ko Shoami tsuba, mumei, ca. Momoyama to early Edo

7.8 cm H x 7.8 cm W x 0.55 cm mimi x 0.4 cm seppa dai

Iron with carving, gold inlay and traces of lacquer. Tomoe sukashi.

Maru gata

Kaku mimi ko niku carved in the form of bamboo

This guard displays the rich taste of early Shoami well. It is subdued but shows conscious, rustic working of the plate to produce interesting textures reminiscent of tea ware. I have seen one or two other tsuba with the same bamboo-form rim, surface texture and inlay, but with different sukashi design.


Yoshihisa tsuba

Shoami tsuba, mei Unshu ju Yoshihisa saku, early Edo

8.0 cm H x 7.8 cm W x 0.6 cm mimi x 0.4 cm seppa dai

Iron with black lacquer, gold and silver inlay

Maru gata

Uchikaeshi mimi

Unshu is the alternate name for Izumo no kuni, which is on the Sanindo. The Nihonto Koza lists Toyohisa and Hirose in the Unshu Shoami ke, but not Yoshihisa. It does mention a Yoshihisa in Kyoto and another in the Iyo Shoami group with the same kanji. There were a number of tsubako with this name from various schools, but with different ji for yoshi. The inlay is a broken brocade pattern done in nunome. The open work pattern represents the end of a spool. Very elegant.

Kinjuro Tsuba

Shoami tsuba, mei Tenka chuko kaizan Shoami Kinjuro, ca. mid Edo

7.7 cm H x 7.5 cm W x 0.4 cm T

Iron with carved surface and gold inlay

Maru gata

Kaku mimi

The signature means something to the effect that Kinjuro has restored the house of the Shoami. This rather bold claim is found in other Kyo Shoami school signatures. Kinjuro is one of the primary Kyo Shoami tsubako along with the likes of Jirohachi, Kanetsu, Masanori, Kanenage, Tadatsugu and Yoshihisa (Torigoye, Tsuba Gei Jutsu Ko). The Nihonto Koza shows an example in a similar style by Jirohachi. Tsuba Aigan Meihan Shu Dai Nihen shows another tsuba by Kinjuro that is almost identical to the above example, with the same signature but with a kozuka hitsu only. The carving of the surface gives the plate a feeling of variety and age. A classic expression of Edo Kyoto taste. NTHK Kanteisho.

Morikuni Tsuba

Shoami tsuba, mei Matsuyama ju Shoami Morikuni, dated 2nd month, 10th day, Kyoho 7 (1722)

8.4 cm H x 8.0 cm W x 0.7 cm mimi x 0.5 cm seppa dai

Russet colored iron with black lacquer, gold and silver nunome, carving, inlay

Iri mokko gata

Sukinokoshi mimi

Matsuyama was the name of a town in Iyo no kuni on Shikoku. Morikuni worked for the Matsudaira family and is considered one of the best tsubako of his time and place. This piece is interesting because the Kyoho 7 date seems to be the earliest specific example that I've found in the literature for this artist. A tsuba dated 1727 is the next oldest surviving example. This is another piece with a great deal of working of the surface that includes inlay of some of the more extreme textures. NTHK Kanteisho with 77 point rating.

Signed Harima Ako ju Shoami Masakazu

7.0 cm H x 6.4 cm W x 0.4 cm T mimi, 0.5 cm T seppa dai

Iron, kawari mokko gata, kaku mimi ko niku

There is no decoration beyond the shape, very slightly raised rim and the single sukashi or a star or dewdrop.  The shape of the hitsuana is often seen in Shoami work.  A well forged and finished plate.

Signed Shoami

8.2 cm H x 8.1 cm W x 0.4 cm T mimi, 0.6 cm T maximum

Iron, maru gata, kaku mimi ko niku

The plate is carved near the rim and inlaid with bras, copper and shakudo to depict melons and flowers on a vine.  There is also a butterfly on the reverse.  This is the style of northern Shoami tsuba that the later Mito Shoami shiiremono pieces were based on.

Copyright 1996-1999, 2002, 2003 Jim Gilbert

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