Title: Karako Yugi Zu
Oval-shaped Tsuba made from Shakudou (赤銅). It is an alloy of copper and gold. Due to the characteristics of the material (easiness of processing), adhesiveness, ease of plating, and the beauty of black coloring. As Shakudou is made from copper and a small quantity of Shirome (しろめ, an alloy of tin and lead), and gold, Shakudou Tsuba has an elegant black color. That is why this material is also called Karasu (烏銅, Shakudou’s black color is likened to crow. Crow is called Karasu in Japanese).
This Tsuba’s Mimi (耳, edge of Tsuba) is covered with gold-colored metal. This decorative covering technique is called Fukurin (覆輪). It gives a gorgeous look to this work. Furthermore, it has a practical use, such as preventing the wear of the edge part. Also, it prevents the wear and tear of the Kimono if the edge damages it by touching the cloth.
The theme of this Tsuba is Karako Yugi Zu (唐子遊戯図). Karako means a child who has a Chinese hairstyle or fashion. Alternatively, it represents the baby’s hairstyle in the Edo period: leaves a little hair on the left and right of the head and shaves the others. In this Tsuba, the former meaning applies. Some children are running around with an animal, and others enjoy playing musical instruments such as flute and drum. The maker’s high-quality carving technique brilliantly expresses the vivid appearance of children who are playing around in nature.
This Tsuba is recognized by The Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords, which is known as NBTHK. According to its certificate, this Tsuba’s maker is Ishiyama Mototada (石山 基菫). He lived in Kyoto prefecture. A theory says Mototada did well in the almost same era as Hosono Masamori (細野 政守), who was also working as a metalworker in Kyoto. Masamori was good at portraying the scenery of the city of Kyoto with detailed sculptural techniques. Mototada was good at depicting landscapes that seems suburb of Kyoto with the combination of Hira-Zougan (平象嵌, a type of inlay technique) and Kebori (毛彫, a type of linear carving expression). Therefore, it is considered that Masamori inspired the style of Mototada.
*As this item is an antique, please check each photo and ensure its condition.
What is Tsuba?
Tsuba is the hand-guard of the Japanese sword. High-class Samurai wore his katana sword with its beautiful sword mountings such as Tsuba. Tsuba’s front design tends to be more decorative as this part was often seen by other Samurais when he was walking on the streets.
Why is it that the sword mounting was important for Samurai?
The sword mountings of the Japanese sword have many kinds of decorations such as handguards (Tsuba), sword hilt (Menuki), pommel (Fuchi Kashira). The Japanese sword worked as a weapon and as an object to show who he was. For example, it shows their personalities and beliefs. You could say that it is like decorations for smartphones today. We recommend you zoom in on the pictures of the sword fittings. When you do so, you can see the skill of Japanese metal engraving techniques. They are mainly made of iron and copper with inlays of gold, silver, and bronze. When it comes to handguard (Tsuba), each one has a different outline and weight. These sword fittings that have lived with Japanese swords of the same age might be worth as much as the Japanese swords. They are inconspicuous parts of the Japanese sword. Nevertheless, if you are knowledgeable or particular about it, you will become a connoisseur of the Samurai.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
NBTHK, also known as Nihon Bijutsu Touken Hozon Kyokai (the Society for the Preservation of the Japan Art Sword), is one of the oldest Japanese sword appraising organizations in modern-day Japan. They authenticated the Tsuba on Jun 19th in the second year of Reiwa (2020). They appraised it as Tokubetsu Hozon Tousougu, the Tsuba worth preserving for Japanese society. The purchaser will receive this original certificate as well. We can also translate what is written into English and make a PDF file for your record if you request.
Samurai Museum is located in Tokyo, Japan, exhibiting antique artifacts related to the Samurai history. Samurai Museum Shop is the place for those who are interested in Japanese culture and craftsmanship. We deal with antique Samurai swords/armor, traditional crafts made in Japan and so on.
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We normally ship via EMS (Express Mail Service) provided by Japan Post. It usually takes at least 5-14 days to deliver the package after you place an order. We will use DHL instead for those who ordered from Canada or Australia as EMS temporarily stops shipping to these countries due to COVID-19. We offer Free International Shipping as long as we can ship your order by either EMS or DHL (Australia, Canada only). If you prefer other shipping carriers, please contact us.
We will inform you of the order’s tracking number via email. Please make sure you fill out your valid email address correctly.
*Please keep in mind that due to the spread of COVID-19, there might be possible delays in delivery. If you like to make sure if EMS shipping is available to your country, please contact us.
【How to make sure the condition】
Please keep in mind that what you are going to purchase is an antique item. We uploaded high resolution photos for you to check its condition thoroughly. If you like to see more photos with different angles, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to send them to you so that you can make informed decision.
It is essential for us to know that you are happy with your choice of Tsuba and we are prepared to use the best of our ability to serve you.
【How to appreciate Tsuba】
Although Tsuba is a small component of Japanese sword mountings, we would say it is one of the most conspicuous parts. Also, unlike the blade itself, Tsuba has a low risk of handling. Furthermore, it does not require a large space for storage. Thus, Tsuba is relatively easy to collect. Here we would like to propose a few ways to enrich your Tsuba experience after purchasing your favorite Tsuba.
Inspect and feel the artistry of Tsuba. You will be amazed by the maker’s work quality to make it look a great work.
-Find the right place to display
Tsuba would look great when displayed in the best way. Find the best place in your house, your office, or anywhere you like, so that Tsuba would be appreciated as much as you like.
※These photos are the example of Tsuba stand and how to place the Tsuba.
-Learn the details
Tsuba reflects quite a lot of detailed features of its maker. Sometimes you can find the maker’s signature on Tsuba. Tsuba makers tried adding elaborate artistry to Tsuba. Many techniques were invented to achieve this goal, such as openworks, engravings, and gold/silver inlays. There were many schools that trained Tsuba creators, and each of them has different characteristics. You would enjoy knowing these differences and find your beloved style.
-Arrange in modern style
We want to propose to you the way that you could enjoy the Tsuba as jewelry. By stringing a cord into the center hole of the Tsuba, it could be worn as a necklace. This modern way would show you a new charm of Tsuba. Here are the examples of neckless.
【Give the Tsuba as a special gift】
Are you looking for a special gift for a person who is interested in Japanese culture? We recommend you to give an antique Tsuba as a present for your significant other. Tsuba is an integral part of the Samurai sword, which was once a primary weapon for Samurai. Each Tsuba is a unique item and has a different design. We hope it would be a memorable gift. Now it is time for you to share the beauty of a piece of Samurai history with your family members or friends, for instance. Also, gift wrapping is available for Tsuba; it is for free. Here is an example of wrapping. For more information, please feel free to contact us. It is always our pleasure to serve you.
Would you like see some more Tsuba for sale? Please check the link below. We hope you can find your favorite Tsuba.