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TSUBA — ( Japanese Sword Guards )

Tsuba - known in English as Japanese Sword Guards that were worn on the Samurai Sword. When it was in it’s mounting, the most conspicuous feature of it’s appearance became the Tsuba. This was especially the case when the Samurai wore his Sword, for it was always placed so the Tsuba came at almost the exact centre of the body, where it became the major aspect of the dignity of the man’s appearance. In brief, from the purely functional viewpoint, the Tsuba is a subordinate part of the weapon, whereas in terms of ornamental value it is of great importance.
Most of the many different kinds and styles of Tsuba are related in aesthetic terms to the basic nature of the Japanese concept of the Bushi ( Warrior ) And for this reason, the Tsuba may be considered a manifestation of the beauty of the way of the Samurai.

Open work Iron Tsuba such as OWARI, KANAYAMA, KO - SHOAMI, KYO - SUKASHI, YAGYU were designed from aesthetic visualisation by the artists who made them and showed in the design a mystical “quiet strength .“ Embellished Kinko Tsuba with Gold, Silver and relatively ornate with designs of dragons and demons and Samurai , etc., do not display this “quiet strength “ as the Iron Sukashi Tsuba display.

TOKUGAWA IEYASU’S famous remark was that the Sword was the “Soul of the Samurai," and an important and aesthetic part of the Sword was the Tsuba.

On this page only genuine and rare and desirable Tsuba are offered that have been in Japanese collections and are rarely available . The Tsuba are in perfect condition and have not been “ messed around with “ as so many have. They have passed careful and experienced inspection and have been acquired from honest and lifetime dedicated Japanese collectors. As one great Japanese Tsuba collector that I have known for 40 years has expressed to me that only once in a lifetime does a great and rare Tsuba come up for sale and it is all about timing, trust and whom you know that it will be offered to you. I have experienced this “once in a lifetime opportunity myself."


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A rare and desirable Iron Tsuba the design of Shiho Sougan. ( 四方双雁 )

Setsumei: ( Explanation)

The meaning of Shiho is four directions. The meaning of Sougan is double gooses. The four sets of triple lines going up and sideways from the inside rim of the Tsuba are the four directions and four flying gooses are depicted in between the circular sukashi. The imaginative concept and surprising design of this Tsuba are a testimony of the master portraying the energy of the Samurai.

Height: 7.6cm
Width : 7.3cm
Rim Thickness : 3mm
Seppadai: (centre) thickness: 4mm
Condition: Showing a beautiful untouched dark lustrous iron texture with a fine display of Tekottsu on the rim.

Certification: NBTHK Hozon Certificate

Comment: This is a unique and rare Tsuba from the Momoyama period and in perfect condition. All the Iron Tsuba on this site are from Japanese collectors whom I have known over a long period and have not been outside of Japan until now. A unique opportunity to aquire this rare and desirable Tsuba.

Note: Images are portrayed under different lighting. As in all cases holding the Tsuba in the hand with human eye contact will portray the exact colour and feeling of emotion that emerge from the Tsuba.


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Setsumei: ( Explanation)

This is an outstanding and rare Ko Shoami Iron Tsuba from the early sixteenth century. ( Mid Muromachi period). The design is that of young Bamboo Bridging a snow ring.
The Iron colour is wonderful and the Tsuba has been kept in pristine condition for its age. There is fine Tekkotsu on the rim.Tsuba of this period are extremely difficult to acquire and this Tsuba is a wonderful piece for the advanced Iron collector.

Height: 8.2cm
Width: 8.2cm
Rim thickness: 3mm
Centre Thickness: 4mm
Condition: Showing a beautiful lustrous shiny dark iron patina.

Certification: NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate attesting to its rarity and authenticity.

OWARI SUKASHI TSUBA design of Bamboo Stems Design (Edo period 17th Century)

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A Sukashi Tsuba of Bamboo Stems design, ( Oratake). Unsigned Owari. (Very similar to a Hayashi Matashichi Tsuba off the same design kept at the Kurokawa Institute of Ancient Culture, Hyogo Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan’s main Island Honshu.

A brief History of the Hayashi School:

The first master of the Hayashi School ( Matashichi ) was born on the eighteenth year of Keicho(1613) and died in the twelfth year of Genroku at the age of 87.
Matashichi’s works differ greatly depending on wether or not they have Zogan ( Inlaid work of Gold or Silver). His Sukashi Tsuba in general has quality Iron, carefully finished with sophisticated designs. His work is considered outstanding.

Setsumei: ( Explanation)

Sukashi Iron Tsuba of great quality Iron and showing Tekkotsu on the rim.

Height: 8.6cm
Width: 8.0cm
Rim Thickness: 4.0mm
Seppa Dai Thickness: 5mm

The condition of this Tsuba is beautiful and has a rich dark granular texture and Tekkotsu on the rim and is in exceptional condition. The age of the Tsuba is early Edo period. This is a rare Tsuba and also has a Hakogaki (箱書き) (Box inscription) by Kanzan Sato. Highly recommended for the advanced Iron Tsuba collector and scholar. For centuries many characteristics of the OWARI school have been appreciated and held in high esteem by the Samurai, expressing their aesthetic standards.
The Owari Tsuba started being made in the Oei era (1394-1427) and lasted until the Sword abolition law was enacted in the ninth year of Meiji 1876.

It comes with NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate attesting to it’s rarity and authenticity.

KANAYAMA TSUBA design of Thunderbolt patterns ( Kaminarimon).

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An untouched Iron Tsuba with great colour and design from the Sasano Masayuki Collection published in his Gold Book : Early Japanese Sword Guards Sukashi Tsuba Page 115, Tsuba # 75.

Height : 71.5 mm
Width : 70.5 mm
Rim Thickness : 5.0 mm
Seppa Dai Thickness :4.5 mm

Condition is a beautiful moist lustre untouched iron patina and for it’s age the Iron is in exceptional condition. It is from the early Momoyama period (1573-1615).

It comes certified with NBTHK Hozon Token.

Rare one of a kind Tsuba

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A desirable and exceptionally rare one of a kind Tsuba Signed : Umetada Shichizaemon Tachibana Shigeyoshi Saku. ( Rare Shomei )

Theme and Design : Kikka cho akimushi zu tetsuji Kawara Maru gata Sukidashi bori iro-e.

Chrysanthemum flower, butterfly, and autumn insects theme. Irregular maru data.

Height: 7.6 cm
Width : 7.8 cm
Rim Thickness : 4 .0 mm
Centre Thickness : 5.0 mm
Condtion : Beautiful untouched Iron Patina with exceptional detail. The images do not portray the full beauty of this Tsuba
Era : Mid Edo
Certification : NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon attesting to its rarity and authenticity.

Published in Nihonto Koza Kodogu Mid Edo period

An Important and rare Shoami Tsuba

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An Important and rare Shoami Tsuba with the design of Manji Mon Kiku Ha Tsuba ( Reverse Swastika and Chrysanthemum )

Height: 7.7 cm
Width : 7.6 cm
Rim thickness: : 4mm
Centre thickness : 4mm
Certification: NBTHK Hozon Certificate

Condition: Showing a beautiful Iron patina with a shine that has not been rubbed and is in perfect condition.

Comment: This Tsuba is unique and dates from early Edo period. It has great balance and beautiful Iron patina. Manji Mon Tsuba of this design and quality are extremely difficult to acquire and are sought after in Japan.

Explanation of Manji Mon:

In Japan, the swastika is called manji 万字, which comes from China The first character, man, means 10,000 which is a big enough number to represent a myriad, or infinity. The second one, ji, is simply character. thus it is called the infinity character.

It is usually facing counter-clockwise. Meaning that the arms of the cross are turning in a counter-clockwise pattern. This being said, it is not uncommon to see it facing the other way and it is called a mirror-image of the manji.
The signification is the same though and it is still not associated with the Nazis in anyway.
A Buddhist Temple image in Japan with the Manji Mon

Important Tsuba by Dewa Akita Ju Shoami Denshichi 18th Century

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Important Tsuba by Dewa Akita Ju Shoami Denshichi 18th Century

Design of Musubinawa Sukashi Tsuba ( strong horsehair rope)
Height : 8.4 cm Width : 7.2 cm
Rim Thickness : 6mm
Centre Thickness : 7 mm
Condition : Showing a beautiful lustrous shiny Iron Patina.

Comment : This is a rare and unique signed 18th Century Shoami Tsuba by a renowned Tsuba maker.

Certification : NBTHK Hozon Certificate.

Masterpiece Tsuba from the Sasano Collection.

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Masterpiece Tsuba from the Sasano Collection.

OWARI Tsuba : Sukashi design; Diamond in a Zig-Zag Configuration ( ori-iribishi )
Momoyama Period Late 16th Century ( Tensho / Keicho era )
Height: 81.5mm Width: 79.9mm Rim Thickness: 5.2mm
Centre thickness: 4.4 mm Round Cornered rim ( Mimi )

NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate 2017

In Japanese this subject is called ‘Ori-iribishi’ expressing a generous cheerful mood. The disappearance of the earlier design of solidity and strength result from political and social developments in the Momoyama period. This slightly heavy appearance is a bold statement of pride.

(From the Sasano Sensei collection and featured in his Silver book: Japanese Sword Guards Masterpieces From The Sasano Collection By Sasano Masayuki) Page 196 , Tsuba 164 Owari.

Comments: This is an exceptionally rare Tsuba and has beautiful Iron Colour and Tekkotsu.( Iron Bones )

Important Higo Tsuba by Tohi Takao

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Important Higo Tsuba by TOHI TAKAO

Height : 8.0 cm
Width : 7.7 cm
Rim Thickness : 4 mm
Centre Thickness : 5 mm

NBTHK Hozon Certification

Setsumei ( Explanation ) :

A rare and fine Tsuba made in Iron and high relief on the inlaid Rogin ( Silver) made by Higo artist Tohi Takao who was born in Higo Province and worked in the mid 1700 ’s. The Tsuba is the design of a Koi (Carp ) emerging from the backside of the Tsuba to the front side with its head at the bottom surrounded by water plants in silver and the Carp’s tail at the top of the Tsuba also in Silver. The head of the Carp is made out of Sliver which has a beautiful patina and shine to it and is raised from the background of the Iron , this is exceptional workmanship . It is well known and published Tsuba in Higo Taikan by Tohi ju Takao, the Tsuba was made in the 18th century and is exceptionally unusual. The Iron work is exceptional both in colour and design. It comes from a very famous Japanese Tsuba collector Fukushi San. In the hand it is very overpowering. This Tsuba exhibit’s excellent work in Iron and Silver and is a master piece , the images do not portray the exceptional and unusual work of this Tsuba as in the hand and naked Human eye it is exceptional.