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Sword guard

Sword guard

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    1800-1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Michitoshi (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass, inlaid with gold and silver, with relief decoration of a snake with gold and shakudo eyes and a copper tongue

  • Museum number:

    1461-1888

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 3

Object Type
The main function of the tsuba is to prevent the warrior's hand from sliding up on to the blade of the sword during combat. It also serves to balance the weight of the blade and, to some extent, protect the hand from an opponent's blade. This tsuba is made of brass in the form of a bell and is inlaid with gold, silver and shakudo with raised decoration of a snake with gold and shakudo eyes and a copper tongue.

People
The tsuba is signed 'made by Michitoshi' and is of a type worn on swords carried by rich merchants or by samurai when away from the shogun's court. It formed part of a group of 92 tsuba sold to the V&A in 1888 by H. Virtue Tebbs. This purchase more than doubled the Museum's collection of such objects.

Time
Following the dissolution of the samurai in 1876 and the prohibition of the wearing of swords, many former samurai sold their swords and sword fittings. Many of these objects reached Europe, where they were eagerly collected. In typical Victorian fashion, British collectors became obsessed with collecting and cataloguing this new art form.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)

Date

1800-1850 (made)

Artist/maker

Michitoshi (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Brass, inlaid with gold and silver, with relief decoration of a snake with gold and shakudo eyes and a copper tongue

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed with maker's mark 'Michitoshi-saku'

Dimensions

Height: 7.6 cm, Width: 7 cm, Depth: 1 cm

Object history note

Made in Japan by Michitoshi

Descriptive line

Tsuba- with snake

Labels and date

British Galleries:
SWORD GUARDS (tsuba)

The Japanese samurai (warrior) was a figure of great interest in Victorian Britain. When the military class was abolished in Japan in 1876, many former samurai were forced to sell their swords and sword fittings. Large numbers of these objects reached Britain where they were enthusiastically collected. [27/03/2003]

Categories

Metalwork; Arms & Armour

Collection

East Asia Collection

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