Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Tsuba with swimming carp



  • 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

  • Japanese Decorative Arts of the Meiji Period 1868-1912 by Oliver Impey and Joyce Seaman

    Japanese Decorative Arts of the Meiji Period

    Sword-guard (tsuba) of tapered rectangular shape in iron and soft metal with relief decoration of three carp, one leaping the other two swimming, on the reverse, a fourth carp swimming. Engraved signature: Natsuo with kakihan.

    Kanō Natsuo (1828-1898) is usually acknowledged as the finest of the Meiji metalworkers, and, indeed one of the finest metalworkers of Japan of any period. He studied the making of sword-fittings, and later studied painting under the Shijō painter Nakajima Raishō (1796-1871).

    Winner of almost every prize available to metalworkers in the National Industrial Expositions, he was also a judge at the Second, Third and Fourth Expositions. He worked for the National Mint, and in 1890 was created an Imperial Artist.

    In all probability this tsuba, with its Shijō-derived design of carp, only just falls in our period; sword fittings were made to special order by several metalworkers even after the banning of the wearing of swords in 1876. Natsuo had been commissioned to make (or to decorate) a ceremonial tachi (slung sword) in 1871 by the Imperial Household Agency.

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