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Rich T

Iron Tsuka

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Hi all, I am unsure of the history of this type of koshirae. It has been in my collection for some time now but sadly I have not really looked into it too closely.

 

This tsuka is made of iron, and has silver iroe of a plum flower on a branch. The Kashira looks Higo and is also Iron with gold Iroe, and the Fuchi I am unsure, it has small gold droplets on it.

 

This came from a sword dated 1805. I assume it to be from around a that time before that though (one should never assume I know) as it has been remounted several times and the core has only mekugi ana. This mekugi ana is the ana for the above mentioned sword.

 

Any offerings appreciated.

 

Cheers

 

Richard

 

tsuka-0.jpg

 

tsuka-1.jpg

 

tsuka-2.jpg

 

tsuka-3.jpg

 

tsuka-4.jpg

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Hi Rich,

 

That is an interesting and difficult one (and I guess others agree judging by the lack of guesses :) )

The last 2 times I saw metal tsuka covers like this were on satsuma rebellion mounts, but this one defies that possibility with its age and embellished decoration.

It definitely does seem to have been used a few times already, and I am sure the inlay work was very good at one stage. The fact that it was re-used so many times re-inforces this.

Maybe it was a style used out on campaigns when there was a lack of fittings to redo a tsuka? Perhaps the inlay work was done later. It would have been easier in the field to fit this kind of tsuka cover than find a maki artist to re-wrap the tsuka and fit menuki. Just a theory, although very tenuous.

 

Regards,

Brian

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Hi Rich,

 

The last 2 times I saw metal tsuka covers like this were on satsuma rebellion mounts, but this one defies that possibility with its age and embellished decoration.

 

Regards,

Brian

 

hey Brian, Rich,

 

Satsuma rebellion is not out of the question here, as there doesn't seem to be anything visible that speaks significantly to this being much older.

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Franco,

 

I was going by the fact that the sword dates to 1807, and the Satsuma rebellion was 1877. The part in question does look like it was in use a few times before ending up on this sword, so I went with the logic that it was earlier than the rebellion. Of course you could always theorise that it was added to this sword after the rebellion etc, but trying to go with the simplest explanation and see where we go from there :)

 

Regards,

Brian

 

Edit to add: Does look to me like this f/k did not originally go with this tsuka judging by the shitodome ana, and the fact that it looks like it probably had a horn kashira with the tsuka ito going under it at one stage.

They do match, but unless that iron cover actually slips under and into the kashira so that the ana line up, I don't think they were originally paired.

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Hi Brian and Franco, thank you both for your comments. I find they add to other I have already. I thought I would share a few opinions I had on another Nihonto forum..

 

The best is the first and from the Big T

 

"Richard et al -

This is known as a Tsutsugane tsuka, the metal piece being like a gun barrel (tsutsu). It is also called a dôgane. Originally a simple band to reinforce a plain wooden handle on a koshigatana, therefore they are most often seen on wakizashi and tanto koshirae. Taira Tadamori brother of Kiyomori is known to have worn a sword with this kind of tsuka. I believe we see a lot of these from late-Edo early Meiji as that was a time of revival of all things classicly samurai such as swords and sugata from the Kamakura era. If that makes sense...

-t"

 

"As an aside, I don't know how useful this info might be as I can't remember where I read this, but I believe that the article mentioned that iron tsuka were used for cutting tests. Would kind of makes sense if that was the case, as Richard's pictures showed the tsuka with multiple peg holes and would be easier than making/wrapping a new tsuka. "

 

"My iron-wrapped tsuka is on a near-mint mid-late Edo period handachi koshirae of superb, but subdued workmanship. The katana is an Echizen no Kami Minamoto Rai Nobuyoshi with kikumon. The sword and tsuka has two mekugi ana. I have read (can't remember where) that swords meant for serious battle use had iron-wrapped tsuka. Not sure I believe this as we would otherwise see many more of them... However, there appears to be nothing related to tameshigiri about this katana I have."

 

"It was made as a reinforcement for a tsuka- very utilitarian. Must have been highly valued to have been reused so many times...."

 

"When I have seen high quality metal mounts, they have tended to be Meiji masterpieces (one by Gassan Sadakazu which we discussed on the list some time back comes to mind)made after the Haito-rei. Low quality stuff seems often to from the Satsuma rebellion. "

 

This has proved to be a very interesting exercise. I would rate my pieces as lower end I guess (maybe though because their condition is down) though the comment about them being important enough to someone to keep remounting is interesting. I need to remember it is always about what we can afford and what brings us pleasure. It was the same then as it is now I have no doubt. The Satsuma rebellion could be the over all winner here and I guess there are varying degrees of these types of koshirae, as noted in the Katana by Nobuyoshi above. It seems to be a popular opinion that these types of mounts were common to both Wakizashi and Tanto so Katana mounts may be rare.

 

Again, thanks for the input.

 

Cheers

 

Richard

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Interesting comments, and likely very accurate.

The one thing that I am unsure of is whether or not this would have been a battle measure with that zogan on it?

It looks from the groundwork to have had quite a bit of nice decoration on it. Now on a sword that you would be handling often with dirty hands and lots of friction, would you place decoration on a part that is going to have much use and abuse?

I would think the silver would wear very fast if handled every day.

So maybe this was during a time where there was not much use, and it was more a higher quality mount that was not meant for everday use?

 

Also curious whether or not that kashira goes over the back of the cover and lines up the ana, or if it was a later addition?

 

Regards,

Brian

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I meant to answer that but forgot. The kashira buts up to the end of the iron tsuka cover and does not overlap it so I assume it may have either been an add on, or something the owner had and liked and used.

 

One of the many questions we will never know the answer to.

 

Cheers

 

Richard

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Here is an iron tsuka i have. Please see the pictures. Any comments welcome, it came off a damaged wak, blade mumei and damaged by abuse. This tsuka is also available for sale as i have no use for it. If anyone is interested please contact me off line at nixe@bright.net

 

Thanks

post-102-14196740242531_thumb.jpg

post-102-14196740243364_thumb.jpg

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The first tsuka looks as though it is supposed to have an ito wrap as there is a divot near to the kashira which is the same on a wood core to allow for the knot size.

The positioning of the decoration suggests that too, as it is on the same plane as the menuki would be.

Interesting piece.

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