Title: Higo-style, Yaguruma Zu
This Tsuba is appraised by the NTHK. According to the certificate, this Tsuba was made by Yatsushiro Jingo (八代 甚吾), who belonged to the Higo style. Yatsushiro is the name of the city in today’s Kumamoto prefecture. The metalworker Jingo, his family name was Shimizu (志水). The Shimizu family has lasted for generations until the 8th Jingo.
It is challenging to distinguish which Jingo made this Tsuba. However, NTHK determined this Tsuba was made in the late Edo period. Initially, Jingo used 甚五 as his signature and later started using the character 吾 instead of 五 in the age of from third Jingo to fifth Jingo. Therefore, we estimate this Tsuba was made at least after this time.
The Higo-style Tsuba was established in Kumamoto prefecture in the Edo period, Kanei era (1624-1645), and was made mainly in Kumamoto city and Yatsushiro city. Hosokawa Tadaoki (Sansai) (細川 忠興/三斎, 1563-1646) took the lead in producing this style with other artists. He worked for Ashikaga Yoshiteru (足利 義輝, 1536-1565), Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長, 1534-1582), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 1537-1598), and Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康, 1543-1616). So, Tadaoki served people in authority of the time and laid the foundation for the Hosokawa family. Tadaoki is known as intellectual Samurai. He studied under Sen-no Rikyu (千利休, 1522-1591), who is considered the most profound influence of Japanese tea. And Tadaoki started the Sansai-style of Chanoyu (茶の湯, way of tea). In Higo-style metalworkers, four prestigious schools did excellent work; the Hayashi (林) family, Hirata (平田) family, Nishigaki (西垣) family, and Shimizu (志水) family. They were good at making Tsuba and other sword mountings, such as Fuchi Kashira and Menuki. In the Edo period, Higo-style Tsuba was a trendy brand among Samurai. This Shimizu family is the Shimizu mentioned above. It was one of the groups that prospered under the patronage of the Hosokawa domain as a metalworker school.
About the design, its theme is the Yaguruma (矢車). It is a gear that arrow feathers are attached radially around the shaft so that it rotates in the wind. Small dots that were inlaid with brass describe drops of water. This Tsuba has beautiful harmony thanks to its symmetry design.
This Tsuba is a valuable masterpiece recognized as the work of a famous and talented school. We hope you will add this Tsuba to your great collection.
*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: NTHK Kanteisho Certificate
NTHK, also known as NPO Nihon Touken Hozon Kai, is the oldest organization for sword authentication of Japanese swords in modern times. It was established in 1889 during the post-Samurai era. They authenticated the Tsuba on Oct 16th in the 4th year of Reiwa (2022). 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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*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 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.