Additional iron tsuba
 of collector interest

Archive Gallery

Dragonfly and Acorn Sukashi

Nambokucho Period

Dragons, birds and insects as motifs on iron tsuba have always attracted my interest and I have tried to pinpoint their study. These subjects appear in the earliest iron tsuba example’s extant, so there are photographic records of the various changes to their design features; from archaic to more stylized as they have evolved through the ages.

The tsuba with a dragonfly (Kachimushi) and acorn sukashi imaged here exhibits some of the features inferred as 'early' for this specific motif (joined body and tail, pin holes for eyes and nose) yet shows somewhat later styling in the shape of the wings. This coupled with the immense size of the plate suggest the Nambokucho period.

After initially viewing this tsuba in Tokyo 10 years ago, I learned it had been spoken for. Eight years later I was able to track it to its then current owner; a knowledgeable collector and friend whom I seldom see, and I am grateful for his parting with it.

Beyond the obvious impact a piece of this size and condition has on the viewer, the plate shows traces of lacquer and the seppa-dai evidence of mounting. One wonders what type of sword accommodated it and how it has survived the ages in such well cared for condition. It is a remarkably stunning example of the 'Warrior Insect' as conventionalized by the Samurai.

The tsuba is accompanied by the unique custom box pictured here, suitably painted and lacquered.

H/W 10.2 x 10.1 cm — Rim 2.5 mm
NBTHK Hozon to Ko-Katchushi