The Tsuba though first a utilitarian hand guard for the swordsman, are also an art form that for years have been admired for their beauty. This marriage of utility and pure art is not unique in the fine arts of Japan. This very quality is inherent in all forms of art and crafted objects coming from Japan. Every art form, whether it be painting, tsuba, sword blades, sculpture, lacquerware, or any other, has a utility as well as an innate beauty that cannot be separated.
This Tsuba, as were others, was developed as an independent branch of the sword furniture. It is very subtle ornamented with a motif of Pine Needles, as though they were lying on the ground after having fallen from a tree. By running one’s hand over the piece, one can feel the texture of how the craftsman in layed each piece onto the metal of the tsuba, thus treating it as a painter’s canvas. The very process of painting itself held a fascination for many later metalworkers. While a handful of artists embellished their work with enamels, (cloisonne’), or shell, or even tried to make pieces that look like lacquerware, in general the machibori carvers are the most admired today. For they are the craftsmen who most successfully adapted their medium to emulate the effects of brush and ink, as illustrated in this piece.
This Tsuba is made of Iron, with an uneven hammered finish with piercing, low-relief carving, and a gold overlay of pine needles on both the front and reverse side of the piece. There is an unusual handling of the matching Hitsu-ana, with a Nakago-ana having Sekigane (fillers). There is no Mimi(rim) on this piece. This Tsuba comes in its original kiri wood box and silk case. It is unsigned. Approximate age: Late Seventeenth century. Dimensions: 3-18” x 3-1/4”.
Excellent Condition- In unused, or like-unused condition. No visual or structural or surface wear or damage shown. Pristine. As good as the day it was made.
Great Condition- Appears in slightly used condition but looks "Like New". Some minor wear, but retains the original craft/workmanship. May show minor wear, that does not affect the main design, or associated motif. No cracks, dents, chips or missing elements.
Good Condition- Minor wear which can be restored or repaired; may have surface flaws, like staining or soiling, confined to a small area. The flaw(s) are counterbalanced by another feature, like brilliant color or innovative design. Some fading or the piece may have been altered in some fashion.
Fair Condition- Main aesthetic/design showing damage. Excessive noticeable wear or damage. Worth buying if can be restored/repaired because of its aesthetic or design appeal or rarity. Note: wear/damage consistent with age/use can often enhance the 'Antique' qualities of a piece, giving it a desirable second chance in one's collection