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Tsuba with hanawachigai, or interlaced circles enclosing karahana

Glossary (2)

shibuichi, tsuba

  • shibuichi

    alloy of copper and silver, patinated to a dull grey-green colour

  • tsuba

    Japanese sword guard.


    • currently in research collection

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.


Publications online

  • The A.H. Church Collection of Japanese Sword-Guards (Tsuba) by Albert James Koop

    The A. H. Church Collection of Japanese Sword-Guards (Tsuba)

    Rounded oblong; slightly lenticular; each face (not the rounded edge) covered with a deeply engraved and stamped hanawachigai diaper (interlaced circles enclosing karahana, four-petalled flowers); the stamping includes the karahana and also the single nanako grain at each intersection, the latter certainly, the former probably, done before the engraving; the design partly covers the sd. The diaper is interrupted and there is no signature (though the companion guard in the W. J. Stewart Collection was signed by the same artist).

    It is instructive to compare this guard with No. 899 [EAX.10899] and also with a guard acquired by the V. and A. Museum from the Hawkshaw Collection (No. 540). This last is in sentokudō and measures 2.85" by 2.6"; it is signed as No.899 [EAX.10899], but with a different kakihan, which, like that on No.899 [EAX.10899], is certainly not that of Tsūjō.

    I have no details as to the signature on the fellow to No.900 [EAX.10900].

    It would appear from a close examination of the workmanship that the three guards availale are by different hands. No.900 [EAX.10900], for example, looks a somewhat older piece than the others. Again, in all three the karahana punches strike the complete flower at one blow, but there is a different degree of separation between the petals, and in No.900 [EAX.10900] this allows for the insertion of a tiny circle separately punched in the middle of each flower. In the South Kensington piece this circle becomes a regular nanako grain, which is thrown up by the punch at the same blow as depresses the four petals.

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