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Udenuki-no-ana, two holes near edge of tsuba


Bugyotsuji
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Something that has just come up again with PeterD's recent thread, is the two holes sometimes found (often but not always) near the edge of some tsuba. I have been interested in these holes for some years, but the Geocities link once posted on this site has disappeard. Guido posted a useful illustration of how leather bindings through them would have worked.

download/file.php?id=6749

 

Would members like to post examples of their tsuba, leading to more comprehensive discussion of their shape(s), purpose(s) and characteristics?

 

Are they found only or mainly on older tsuba? Were they connected with fighting on horseback, where dropping a sword would be fairly fatal? Is there a strong connection with Satsuma, but are the Satsuma holes smaller than examples from elsewhere, and for a different purpose?

 

If this thread looks like taking on life, I will add a couple of examples to keep the theoretical pot boiling. :beer: :clap:

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Oh, all right then, I'll put them up first.

 

The only one I can roughly date is the first, Wakizashi-sized, 7.5 cm high, mid-Edo, signed 明珍 紀守次 Myochin Ki(?) Moritsugu, also named 忠則 Tadanori, one other example being dated 寛保 3, = 1743.

 

The second is smaller, at 7.2 cm high, and the third is much larger at 8.9 cm.

 

(Apologies for unflattering shots taken leaning up against the pc.)

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Lots of examples, and far better than I had hoped. :clap: Some patterns are emerging in my mind.

 

One thing that stands out for me is the placement of these holes. Although they could be put almost anywhere, artistic consideration seems to be of the greatest importance, perhaps more so than functionality. (This again is something that people say about Netsuke, ie the placement of the holes is vital and can make or break a composition, although functionality will always be vital in Netsuke.)

 

Common also is a disparity in size. Sometimes they are called 'Sun & Moon' 日月 Jitsu-Getsu (101 ways to read these characters in conjunction!). Two of the Udenuki holes above are ringed in gold/brass and silver in order to emphasize that aspect. There was certainly a period in Netsuke when one hole was markedly larger than the other.

 

Please forgive the constant reference to Netsuke, but I have a pet theory that spare Tsuba sometimes functioned in the Muromachi and Sengoku period as Netsuke for carrying other things from the obi, weighted against them. Spoils of war? Conversely it could be that Netsuke may have taken their inspiration and birth, at least partly through such usage of Tsuba.

 

Could these holes have had a primary active function, as udenuki, then such a secondary passive function, whilst keeping it all the while artistically pleasing?

 

(Now we wait for the heavens to open...)

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Dug out a couple Muromachi tsuba and took some quick pics;

After mentioning the integration into designs, it got me wondering if the gourd on the Onin tsuba was a clever use of Udeneki or am I just reaching?

Interesting topic, hope to see/learn more.

 

Regrds,

Lance

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Dear All,

Just notice this reference on the: tetsugendo.com ( facebook page ) ....

 

" the small holes used on tsuba from the Satsuma kinko schools is Sometimes called udenuki ana, but the proper term according to the NBTHK is sayadome ana. Satsuma Bushi were known for their short tempers, so they sometimes tied the tsuba to the saya to prevent a quick draw from a short temper.... "

 

... Ron Watson

 

PS. Out of several tsuba I own this is the only one that has these two ( on purpose holes ).

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Yes, there do seem to be some clever holes disguised as other objects. Designed to tickle the fancy?!

 

Ron, that is a good find. Thank you. We can clarify the terminology a little here, then.

 

1. Satsuma holes, which are smaller, were called more properly Sayadome-ana or Sayadome-no-ana. This word means 'Sheath-stopper/fastener hole(s)'. I have heard elsewhere that local laws were passed in Satsuma requiring the seals to be unbroken upon random inspection in public places. The Saya was tied from the kurigata or the kaerizuno to the tsuba by a length of twisted paper called a koyori. Every household had an abundant supply of these and people could whip them up on the spot, but I wonder if there was an official type that had to be used? Paper twists could be broken easily, but the owner probably had to have a good reason for making that extra tug.

 

2. Udenuki-no-ana/kan means literally 'forearm, go-through, hole/ring/loop'. If Satsuma Sayadome were smaller, then these by definition will be generally larger in comparison. Several examples above show one hole, not two, so are we happy to say that Udenuki-no-Kan could have come in either ones or twos?

 

(This is also true for Netsuke which especially in older types often had a single 'chimney' passing up through a hole in the base. On another note, Japanese armour and horse saddles had many places where two adjacent holes were used for stringing.)

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Lovely. :clap: We may have to refine our definitions somewhat! :glee:

 

Note to self. The word 'kan' in Udenuki no kan, seems to be interchangeable in everyday use with ana, ie hole. Is it just me, or does the word 'kan' suggest some kind of fitment, rather than a bare hole? With Tanegashima matchlocks the word is 'kan' but perhaps with Tsuba, 'ana' is better? Udenuki-no-kan, udenuki-no-ana... hmmm... .

 

PS I feel a poll coming on. Something along the lines of "Of the tsuba that you own, how many have these holes in them?".

 

For those who would like to keep their outright tsuba numbers secret, a simple percentage will do.

 

(I have about 50 tsuba of wildly varying quality, middling at best, of which three fitted the bill. So, about 6% in my case, but then again I was subconsciously drawn to them already.) :lol:

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Bear in mind I dont actually collect tsuba, but i do collect tachi. This is what I have observed. Udenuki ana are or were common on older tachi tsuba and yes they were intended for a wrist strap where the sword is used on horseback primarily one handed. In these instances the holes are are of different size and are reasonably close together. In the Edo period there was an antiquarian movement that caused a resurgence of older styles and this two hole feature, but in this instance with two equal sized and somewhat smaller holes, made a reappearance. It is found on both katana and wakizashi tsuba of the early Edo period.

Before others start shooting holes in this observation, I stress there are exceptions to this and I know of a few. The above is one mans view not scripture or set in concrete

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Thank you Keith. It's as if we are fitting pieces of the subconscious past together here. :thanks:

 

Just trawling the internet and came up with this blog discussing (a) Satsuma tsuba and the use of the small holes. Generally it covers what we have been discussing, but goes into some interesting detail.

It says among other things that there was a strong admonition against drawing one's sword, which once drawn had to kill someone or be used to take your own life. To avoid this, Bushi were actively encouraged to fight with the sword still sheathed inside the scabbard. The holes were called Tsubadome ana, or Sayadome ana, (s)he says. Through them would be passed a length of twisted koyori paper, or a length of string or wire etc. to be attached to the Kurigata. The holes only needed to be large enough to thread paper, string or wire through, so they were very small, especially so at the end of Edo Bakumatsu, when wire was first made widely available.

 

The author clearly distinguishes these from the older and larger Udenuki holes which were used to strap the sword to the wrist on the battlefield and prevent it being dropped.

 

http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/sayosamonzi/31879732.html

 

薩摩示現流仕様の鍔は小さい。攻めの流儀だから拳を守る必要を感じなかったからだろう。それに右頭上刀を天に向かって真っ直ぐに立てるトンボという構えを取るとき、鍔が大きいと耳などにさわり邪魔になるからだとも言われている。因みに尾張柳生拵え仕様の鍔も小さい。奇しくも剣術の2大流派で用いる鍔に共通するものがあるというのは興味深い。

薩摩には武士がいったん刀を抜いた時には相手を殺すか自分が死ぬかだからやたらと刀を抜いてはならぬ、事があった時は鞘ごと抜いて戦えという教えがありました。そこで鍔に小さな穴を穿ち、紙縒りや細紐、針金などで栗形に固縛したのです。この穴は鍔の右側に二つあり、鍔止め孔とか鞘止め孔とかいっています。孔の大きさは紙縒りや細紐が通るくらいのもので、針金が流通する幕末になると見つけるのが困難なくらいの大きさになります。因みに鍔の下部に二つの大き目な孔がある物がありますが、これは腕抜き孔と云って戦いの最中に刀を取り落さないように紐を通し手首に巻き付ける為のものです。

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Piers

but I have a pet theory that spare Tsuba sometimes functioned in the Muromachi and Sengoku period as Netsuke for carrying other things from the obi,

 

Heres a delicious little side play. Spare tsuba were quite often used as a slip buckle to fasten the two ends of an obi after passing it a few times around the waist. The two ends were passed in opposite directions from behind through both the hitsu ana. Most commonly used tsuba were with two kogai hitsu ana.

I guess the tsuba guys wont like the object of their collections reduced to a mere buckle, but multiple functionality is a bonus as long as you dont use a tsuba as a beer mat. :D

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Heres a delicious little side play. Spare tsuba were quite often used as a slip buckle to fasten the two ends of an obi after passing it a few times around the waist. The two ends were passed in opposite directions from behind through both the hitsu ana. Most commonly used tsuba were with two kogai hitsu ana.

I guess the tsuba guys wont like the object of their collections reduced to a mere buckle, but multiple functionality is a bonus as long as you dont use a tsuba as a beer mat. :D

 

Must have been awfully narrow obi.....

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Chris.

 

The type of obi would have been those worn by ashigaru. As you say fairly narrow but effectively just strip about 6inches wide of a material like pongee- rough cotton or the like, not reinforced like a swordsmans obi. Crumpled up to fit through the hitsu ana. I've tried this myself and it does work quite well with plain unreinforced materials. I have an illustration somewhere of a warrior monk wearing a tsuba in this way.

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Chris.

 

The type of obi would have been those worn by ashigaru. As you say fairly narrow but effectively just strip about 6inches wide of a material like pongee- rough cotton or the like, not reinforced like a swordsmans obi. Crumpled up to fit through the hitsu ana. I've tried this myself and it does work quite well with plain unreinforced materials. I have an illustration somewhere of a warrior monk wearing a tsuba in this way.

 

Ok, I got you....when I think of obi I usually image something wide and made of silk or heavy cotton. Trying to fit such a thing through a hitsu-ana would seem impossible.

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I have enjoyed this instructive thread, and it is enlightening to compare this with the manner in which a similar subject, posted by Grey Doffin on 26 August 2012, was discussed at that time. I note that no observations have been made upon the frequency of sayadome-ana that appear as a pair of small perforations in the kōgai sekigane of a tsuba. The small size of these suggests that wire, rather than a twisted paper tie, was used to affix the tsuba to the kurikata.

 

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=13723&p=118579#p118579

 

John L.

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This thread is quite old. Please consider starting a new thread rather than reviving this one, unless your post is really relevant and adds to the topic..

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