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Tsuba

Tsuba

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    19th century (made)
    1820-50 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Copper-gold alloy (<i>shakudō</i>) hammered, chiselled and inlaid with gold, silver and copper-silver alloy (<i>shibuichi</i>)

  • Museum number:

    M.222-1911

  • Gallery location:

    Japan, Room 45, The Toshiba Gallery, case 1

Sword guard (<i>tsuba</i>) decorated with a stream with plants and a dragonfly and butterfly in a stylised cloud haze

The tsuba is a practical device placed between the hilt and the blade giving protection to the hand as well as providing a medium for the Japanese metalworker to demonstrate his skills. Early tsuba were simple iron disks but these were sometimes pierced or hammered with low relief decoration. Various copper alloys were later used and these could be patinated to a wide range of colours and finishes and then inlaid with other coloured metal alloys. Tsuba became miniature art forms in their own right and many schools developed their own unique styles.

Physical description

Sword guard, tsuba, made of the copper-gold alloy shakudo in mokko, or quatrefoil, shape. Inlaid with gold, silver and copper-silver alloy shibuichi and with carved details. Decorated with a stream with rushes, waterlilies and orchids, as well as two butterflies and a dragonfly amid streaks of golden haze.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)

Date

19th century (made)
1820-50 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Copper-gold alloy (shakudō) hammered, chiselled and inlaid with gold, silver and copper-silver alloy (shibuichi)

Dimensions

Height: 68 mm, Width: 60 mm

Descriptive line

Met, Japan, SF, ICHIJO
Sword guard (tsuba) decorated with a stream with plants and a dragonfly and butterfly in a stylised cloud haze.

Labels and date

The tsuba is a protective guard fitted between the hilt and the blade of a sword. Originally they were simple iron disks, sometimes decorated by piercing or hammering in low relief. Later sword guards were more often made of copper alloys, patinated to a wide range of colours and inlaid with other coloured metals. Sword guards became miniature art forms, and different schools of makers developed their own unique styles. [04/11/2015]

Materials

Shakudo; Gold; Silver; Shibuichi

Categories

Arms & Armour

Collection

East Asia Collection

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