Additional iron tsuba
 of collector interest

Dragons, Birds and Insects

Higo tsuba Shakudo Centipede Edo Period

H/W 8.2 cm — Rim 3 mm

This maru-gata tsuba with inlayed Centipede, is papered to Higo. Further attempts to identify the smith that produced this work have not been conclusive. One possibility was Misumi Koji, (Haranobu) whose extant works include examples with shakudo centipede as the motif, along with similar rims and openings. But Koji's tsuba are scarce as he was reportedly devoted to making 'fuchi-kashira'. However, his mastery of shakudo and creative styling of the centipede are consistent with his work. The piece is unsigned.

The tsuba itself displays well-formed openings on a beautiful plate in addition to the striking application of the insect clinging to the surface. The reverse side is depicted as well in order to show the tail of the centipede which overlaps the plate under the rim. The box is made from teakwood and is accompanied by a lacquered outer box, both custom crafted to fit the tsuba and inner box respectively, resulting in an impressive display arrangement.

Kanshiro (Nishigaki) 'Crane and Turtle' sukashi
Edo period

H/W 8.0 x 7.8 cm — Rim and Seppa 5 mm
NBTHK Hozon to Kanshiro

This tsuba was produced by the first Kanshiro master 'Yoshishiro' who did not sign his work. The ji-sukashi depicts a crane and turtle with bearded tail, (mythical minogane) perfectly carved and after the style of Kasuga master 'Matashichi' a contemporary of Kanshiro and one who influenced his work. The color of the iron is deep purplish black that has luster, the plate revealing detailed carving and delicate kebori and is a masterpiece from the standpoint of workmanship.

Jingo (Shimazu) Dragon (Ryu) Edo Period

H/W 7.0 x 6.8 cm — Seppa/Rim 3 mm — Early Edo Period
NBTHK Hozon to Shodai

The first master was a silver smith which is reflected on the surface of the tsuba imaged here. The Dragon exhibits strong traces of silver zogan (inlay) in the cross-checking wire technique, which shows traces of silver in the body and tail of this low relief carving. The result is a subtle image of a richly carved 'Higo Ryu' belching flame.

Even at first glance the merits of this piece clearly reflect many of the characteristics of the Jingo school in its mokko shape and uniquely formed hitsu-ana. Moreover, the color and depth of patina convey an expression of antiquity empathized in the prominence of the tsuchime-ji. This is a superb work executed on a thin plate with the characteristically smaller hitsu-ana, of the shodai, contrasting with the larger radically sized openings of succeeding generations. The first generation 'Nibei Kuzuyuki' did not sign his work.

Jingo Crab & Dragonfly motif Edo Period

H/W 8.2 x 7.7 cm — Seppa 4 mm — Rim 3 mm
NBTHK Hozon to Jingo

This tsuba represents the work of a later generation in the succession of Jingo masters and is very nicely executed with the 'Crabs claw' clutching the tail of the dragonfly depicted on the reverse (image 2). The design detail is emphasized by removing metal around its edges thus deepening the contrast with the plate. In this example the 'Crab' displays the effect of gold zogan, while the 'Dragonfly' exhibits silver zogan on its body and wings. The surface of the plate is typical of the Jingo school and strongly emphasized here. Note the radical differences between the openings for the Kogai and Kazuka.