Condition: Excellent

Japanese Antique Tsuba | Sword Guard with Pine Needle Motif | 1930

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 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: 1930. Dimensions: 3-18” x 3-1/4”.

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 inlaid 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. NOTE: See book listed on our site entitled: Book of Sword Fittings | Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum | 1996

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