OK, a bit of a time delay between posting Heinjo tsuba 1 and 3 and the final one from my collection, but the original photos were a bit naff.
Nothing particularly exciting about this oval Heianjo/Kaga Yoshiro type tsuba at first glance, a 24-petalled chrysanthemum (hey, I spelt it correctly!) with brass inlay. I would guess that the inlay the Kaga branch of the Heianjo school. Some of the inlay is missing, which does provide an opportunity to look at how the inlay was applied! Unlike posting for tsuba #1 and #2 the inlay is flush with the iron plate. Of note is the lack of hitsu ana, which may be an indication (not reliable) that this tsuba is pre-Edo, say 1650-1600.
An almost identical tsuba came up recently in an auction that I saw on line (see Word document attached) with an NHTBK attribution to the Kaga Yoshiro school. My Japanese is not good enough to make out much more than the mumei Kaga Yoshiro attribution, but I’m happy with their assessment
A similar tsuba was sold as part of the Compton Collection (Part II, lot 27, 22 October, 1992). I say similar in that it was also a 24-petalled chrysanthemum (not 23 as Christies counted) with a slight mokko shape and a single kodzuka hitsu. As far as I can see from their photo the punch marks around the nagako ana are similar (round punch along both sides) and it seems the tsuba was attributed to the Saotome school largely because of this kantei point. The inlay was described as a later Kaga addition. I suppose most of us are more familiar with the ca. 72-petalled chrysanthemum pattern that typified Saotome work. My knowledge of tsuba is not good enough to say if this tsuba could be Saotome work, but from the limited information that I have found, Saotome tsuba seem to be thick (4-5 mm) as is this tsuba. I gather that the Japanese liked to embellish old tsuba with soft metal in the Edo period, so a possibility.
My inclination is to attribute this tsuba to the late 16th C based upon:
- The solid nature of the tsuba, which would have been more of a requirement during this waring time.
- The lack of hitsu ana.
- The lack of sophistication in both the tsuba and inlay.
And finally a silly question. The city of Kyoto was formerly known as Heian. Can anyone tell me why brass inlay tsuba are called Heianjo whereas sukashi tsuba are termed Kyo-sukashi, both being produced in the same area around the same time, ca. 1600?
Anyway, comments welcome, so shoot me down.
Best regards, John (just a guy making observations, asking questions and trying to learn)