Small Early Iron Tsuba

Katchushi style tsuba, mumei, ca. late Muromachi

7.3 cm H x 7.2 cm W x 0.3 cm mimi x 0.2 cm seppa dai

Iron with very fine texture hammer work

Maru gata

Chuku Dote mimi (hollow pipe rim) with good iron bones

A relatively small katchushi tsuba. The sukashi design may be a butterfly, rabbit or a turtle. The kozuka ana was presumably made to fit the old large style kozuka. I have seen several similar smooth-finished guards one private collection in Japan, but they seem to be largely ignored in public collections and books.

Katchushi tsuba, mumei, ca. mid-late Muromachi

7.3 cm H x 7.3 cm W x 0.6 cm T at mimi, 0.3 mm at seppa dai

Iron, very well kneaded

Mokko gata

Dote mimi with tekkotsu and hammering that are subtle and very strong

Again, here is that large, elongated kozuka ana on a small tsuba. This piece is among my favorites. It is very powerful, but finely executed. The iron is exceptionally dense. The shape, and the proportion, especially that of the mimi are excellent. But, it's small, and so is not considered "important" in the scheme of ranking things.

Mumei, ca. late Muromachi - Momoyama

7.25 cm H x 6.85 cm W x 0.4 cm T


Mokko gata

Kaku mimi koniku with bold tekkotsu

Here is another example of very good iron work in a small guard. The marks around the nakago ana are sometimes associated with Saotome work. It also could be Shoami. I wonder what sort of koshirae this guard was worn with. In the context of tea, rustic objects were very much in style among the military upper class at the time.

Katchushi style tsuba, mumei, ca. mid - late Muromachi

7.6 cm H x 7.3 cm W x 0.45 cm T at mimi, 0.2 cm at seppa dai


Mokko gata

Uchikaeshi mimi with very pronounced tekkotsu

This is a homely little tsuba that someone loved enough to line the udenuki ana with silver and gold, fill one ana with textured lead and line the other with shakudo. This could just as easily be called Tosho work, except for the convention of identifying anything with a raised rim as armorer's work. I wonder if it wasn't really made by an amateur.

Mumei, ca late Muromachi

7.0 cm H x 6.8 cm W x 0.4 cm T

Iron with black lacquer

Mokko gata

Shakudo fukurin mimi

While its only decoration is the very good shakudo fukurin, this small guard is beautifully balanced and proportioned.

Tosho style tsuba, mumei, ca. early Edo

6.8 cm H x 6.7 cm W x 0.35 cm T

Iron, sukashi design of a feather

Maru gata

Maru mimi/kaku mimi koniku, distorted by strong running iron bones

Here is an example of a small Tosho style tsuba. This is an interesting piece in that it shows the style of the Tadatsugu tsuba of the 1700's. I suspect that pieces like this are the inspiration for that style.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2003 Jim Gilbert

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