Additional iron tsuba
 of collector interest

The tsuba in this section belong to the 'Owari-group', a loosely comprised coupling based on interrelated similarities, school location, area iron and some rather unclear and confusing relationships. They nonetheless represent excellent examples of the various types presented.

Owari Geese sukashi Muromachi period

H/W 7.6 x 7.4 cm — Rim 5 mm — Muromachi

Owari tsuba can be dated back to the mid-Muromachi period and were reportedly favored by Samurai during the ensuing 'Sengoku' period of continuous warfare. This piece appears to be from that era, its age in part evidenced by the uneven or irregular surface treatment on the face 'hira-ji' and the wide, squared rim framing it. The ji-sukashi connecting the rim to the seppa-dai (at the top and bottom) represent wild geese in flight, while the horizontal design is not readily identifiable. Owari tsuba of this vintage exhibiting well balanced sukashi, excellent iron quality, deep color and good state of preservation are considered very desirable.

Owari 'Shiho Matsu' sukashi Muromachi

H/W 7.8 cm — Rim 5 mm — Muromachi

The 'hira-ji' or plate surface on this tsuba is like the previous 'Geese in flight' sukashi and reveals a lustrous purplish black patina, prominent and conspicuous tsuchime-ji, granular tekkotsu on the rim and a wide seppa-dai that supports the distinctly powerful design of four pine trees (canopies); their towering height reflective in Samurai philosophy of 'strength of character' striven for by the warrior during that period. This tsuba design, its size and uniform balance is classically symbolic of the work of the Owari school.

Hoan 'Kuruma sukashi' Edo Period

H/W 7.2 cm x 7.1 cm — Rim 7 mm — Edo period

The 8 spoke wheel in this design has massive thickness and represents a classic example of a 'kuruma' or wheel sukashi by a Hoan master, repeating a design made prominent on early Hoan works.

Echard Kremer's book Sukashi Tsuba depicts a similar tsuba on page 107, which is awfully close in dimension, style and even the appearance of the 'hira-ji' with its 'Yakite' induced molton surface, that is a recognized Hoan heat treatment clearly visible in the 'wet' look, which was beautifully achieved on the plates surface.

Yagyu 'Kuruma sukashi' Edo Period

H/W 7.0 cm — Rim 5 mm — Edo period

This is a convincing design with notable distinctions in the size of the wheel sukashi accommodating the hitsuana-ana and nakago-ana. Connecting the rim to the seppa-dai, are twelve spokes which form the wheel. Radial lines are visible on the wide rim edge which show wear, although they are more prominent on the reverse side and may relate to rays of the sun; an interpretation left to the viewer.

The color of the iron, its thickness, the motif itself and the granular tekkotsu on the rim strongly indicate Yagyu production.

Yagyu 'Classes of Society' sukashi Edo Period

H/W 7.0 x 6.8 cm — Rim 5 mm
Tokubetsu Hozon to Yagyu

A rigid system installed by the Tokugawa Shogunate during the early Edo period divided the Japanese population into classes. The ji-sukashi on this tsuba depict these classes and they are described in descending hierarchal order; The Samurai by bow/arrow, the farmer by a shovel, the artesian or craftsman by the rule and the merchant class by the weight. The hitsu-ana are formed by the elements of the design; all very nicely crafted. The plate shows the color and granular iron of the piece, while the rim reveals the forging pattern in long linear bands clearly visible in the image; all of which are characteristic of Yagyu production.

Yamakichibee Kuruma sukashi Tensho period

H/W 7.6 x 6.8 cm — Rim 4 mm

This tsuba is mokko-gata in shape with 'wheel' sukashi, 'udenuki-ana' and plugged hitsuana-ana; it is signed with the three-character signature 'Yamakichibee.' There are distinctions made with respect to signatures by this tsuba-maker and differing opinions as to generational identification in the Yamakichi line that followed, which will not to be examined here. In this case the signature has the appearance of the first generation (Shodai) and the tsuba is papered to Yamakichibee.

The common characteristics relating to the shodai and identified in this piece include its granular surface, thickness and the reddish-purple color of the patinaed iron. Other relevant traits exhibited in the work are the mokko shape, wheel sukashi and 'iron bones' that stand out on the rim. In summary it is a nice representative piece and convincing in characteristics and attributes.

Ohno Tsuba 'Ishi Usu' sukashi Momoyama

H/W 8.6 x 8.0 cm — Rim 8 mm — Seppa-dai 5 mm

This mokko-gata shaped tsuba is designed with 'stone grinder' sukashi, top and bottom, while the kogai-ana is formed in the shape of a lever that serves to turn the stone, a bold and symbolic design. The piece belongs in the 'Owari group' of tsuba schools by broad definition and is speculated to be of Ohno production, if not characteristically representative. The color of the iron runs to purplish black, is deep and of good quality, while the massive rim shows small granular tekkotsu on the lobes.

Norisuke tsuba Wheel sukashi Late Edo period

H/W 6.7 x 6.2 cm — Rim 4 mm

This tsuba shares many of the features of the Yagyu; the wheel sukashi design, size, thickness and rim tekkotsu. In addition, Norisuke reportedly made copies of the designs of both the Yagyu and Yamakichi, the above image reflecting some of the similarities to both schools. The tsuba is of good quality and has a nice patina and plate surface, which displays a plugged kogai hitsuana as well as a copper filler in the nakago-ana where the seppa-dai shows signs of having been mounted.