Title: Itoh-style, Kiku Kiri Saya Gata Sukashi Tsuba
This Tsuba is recognized by The Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords, which is known as NBTHK. According to the certificate, this Tsuba is categorized as the Itoh (伊藤) style Tsuba. Itoh Masanaga (伊藤 正長) was the founder of the Itoh school, which is the school of metalworkers for sword mountings. It has flourished from the middle to the end of the Edo period. The founder, Itoh Masanaga, was based in Edo and Odawara (小田原, a city located in today’s Kanagawa prefecture), and the metalworkers there visited each other, interacted with each other, and refined their skills. Their works are characterized by brilliant and delicate style made by Sukashi-Bori (透かし彫, openwork), Sukishita-Bori (鋤下彫, a type of carving technique), Niku-Bori (肉彫, a kind of carving technique), Zougan (象嵌, inlay), and Iroe (色絵, painting). They chiefly worked as Tsuba specialists for the Edo Shogunate and feudal loads.
About the design, you would find that the Kiku Mon (菊紋, chrysanthemum pattern) and Kiri Mon (桐紋, paulownia pattern) are engraved. In addition, the Saya Gata (紗綾形) pattern decorates the entire background of this Tsuba’s screen. It is a type of continuous geometric pattern that many Samurai favored. According to a theory, the Saya Gata pattern was brought from the continent to Japan in the Momoyama period (1568-1600). This design has a graceful appearance and represents the longevity and prosperity of the family.
We estimate the Kiku Mon and Kiri Mon are both auspicious designs. A long time ago, the chrysanthemum was used as a medicine for obtaining a long life on the continent, and it was brought to Japan with this thought in the Nara period (648-781). The chrysanthemum symbolizes autumn, and people have greatly appreciated it since ancient times. As its petals form radially, the chrysanthemum has been likened to the sun. That is why this flower pattern is treated as the symbol of perpetual youth and longevity or good health.
The Kiri pattern is generally composed of three standing straight inflorescences and three leaves. The number of blooming flowers at each inflorescence means the ranks of this design. The Gosan-no-Kiri Monyou (五三の桐文様) is a popular design that the paulownia motif is used. According to a tradition, the Houou (鳳凰, Fenghuang, a kind of sacred beast) rests its wings at the paulownia tree. Therefore, it has come to be regarded as a holy plant. This Tsuba’s design is a combination of auspicious motifs. We hope you will enjoy this Tsuba with each good luck meaning.
*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 Kichou 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 Mar 30th in the 44th year of Showa (1969). They appraised it as Tokubetsu Kichou Kodougu, 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. Time of delivery is estimated as accurately as possible by the carrier but does not take into account any delays beyond our control such as by inclement weather, post office holiday seasons.
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*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】
While 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 openwork, engravings, and gold/silver inlays. There were many schools that trained Tsuba makers, 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 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.