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A series of fittings ( or how not to build a collection )

Bob M.

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Item No. 130 Tsuba in copper with bronze and brass facings , copper , shakudo and gold inlays   7.40cm x 6.90 cm x 0.50 cm


Subject of the immortals Chinnan and Chokaro , Pine tree on reverse signed Miboku Masayuki ,  18th Cent.


Where to start with this ? A depiction of the two Sennin releasing a dragon from an alms bowl and a horse from a gourd . The detailing is not apparent until you study the scene carefully , at many different angles under a light source. From the scales on the dragons back , to the hairs on the horse's mane and tail , the three dimensional modelling of the faces and the patterns on their robes , this is all work carried out with the greatest care .


On the reverse , the pine tree is a well known Hamano school characteristic but I have never seen one as good as this. The remnants of spider webs just disturbed by a hint of breeze give a wonderful dynamic to the composition and gold inlays on the trunk of the tree do not betray their presence until viewed in the correct light.


The signature is very confidently and clearly incised - it purports to be that of a Big Name - Shozui , the founder of the Hamano School . Can anybody comment on this after reference to Wakayama or Haynes ?


The reverse also carries an acquisition number which suggests that it was once part of a large collection.


The file photographs flatten out and obscure most of the fine details on this piece - I have attempted to give a flavour of this with some more detailed pictures taken at different angles but , perhaps as it should be , this needs to be examined in hand to fully appreciate.









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Re Item No. 130


I have been asked about it , so ,the gold on the trunk of the tree is to imitate pine resin . The inlays work the same way as in real life - when you are looking at the tree with light either behind the trunk or in front of it , the resin patches appear to be very dark or black in colour ( very often invisible ) . When viewed with the light shining through at an angle , the translucent resin appears golden.

Looking at the tsuba with light at the correct angle shows liquid nodules of resin running down the bark. Maybe amber of the future ?



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Item No. 131  Iron Tsuba 7.07 cm x 6.97 cm x 0.50 cm


Sukashi water wheel, mumei, guess age as late 18th cent. . Very dark patina with iron bones in evidence.


Info with this piece reads ' Kanayama Genji Guruma ' can anyone make sense of this ? Of course there is the Genji family line of the Mizuno school , spreading over 350 years or so , but this is well outside my area of experience.



Item No. 132  Iron Tsuba  8.01 cm x 7.92 cm x 0.40 cm


Tsuba that appears at first sight to be modern made , but seems to have been hand made and possibly mounted . Could this an early hobbyist's piece ?


What does the kanji read ?






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Dear Bob.


Assuming your pictures are transposed, the Kanayama tsuba is in the form of a cartwheel or kuruma.  There is an episode in the Tale Of Genji to which it refers but we will have to wait for George to pin it down.:thumbsup:


As to the other, well the shape of the ryohitsu and the sepps dai, alignment of the initial drilling around the mimi, not to mention the poor quality of the piercing of the rays.........


All the best.

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Item No. 133   Three ' orphan ' fuchi one in shakudo , the other two in shibuichi.


133a - Garden lantern and pine tree in relief , signed Hamano Yasuyuki


133b - Clouds with demons , signed Nomora Masamitsu with kao


133c - Stream and reeds , signed Sekienshi Tsuchiya Yasuchika


Provenence  - Lundgren Collection nos. 222 , 243 and 257 respectively


Purchased some two and a half years ago at auction.






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Item No. 134   Iron Tsuba   8.35 cm x 8.23 cm x 0.40 cm


Subject bamboo leaves/shoots , aoi leaves and geese ? Mimei, Bushu or Choshu late 18th century ?



Item No. 135 Copper fuchi / Kashira with gold , shakudo and red copper detailing.


Subject of Crane in flight , pine and ume ? blossom . Kao signature.







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There are a number of tsubas in the collection that are signed Nobuie - I will be posting these over the next few weeks interspersed with the normal additions to the thread. Most of these will be 'Nobuie revival ' , I expect.  There is good reason to believe that one of them was papered by the NBTHK as Myochin Nobuie ...


There must be some Members out there who could steer me in the right direction , please ?


The first of these -


Item No. 136    Iron Tsuba  7.72 cm x 7.15 cm x 0.57 cm


Hot stamped iron tsuba  , heavy , with many iron bones ,shows evidence of mounting . Consistant dark brown patina , faint carvings of leaves and tendrils.





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Hi Bob, sorry I'm late in my posting about Item 131 @Geraintgets the atari!  The subject is a cart wheel from a "Genji Guruma" (a generic term for an Imperial Ox Cart) on a Kanayama School tsuba.  As Geraint said, it comes from the Tale of Genji (considered by many scholars to be the World's first novel) about the romantic exploits of Prince Genji.  There are several chapters in the book that refer to Genji Guruma ("guruma" is the euphonic of Kuruma or "car" in Japanese) but the best known is the Aoi chapter.  In the case of tsuba like this though, it is just a generic imperial cart wheel and probably doesn't refer to a specific chapter in the book.  We often see these cart wheels on tosogu in water (soaking up moisture to keep them from splitting in use).  The meaning was something like you have to prepare yourself under difficult conditions to be ready to be useful later.



Screen Shot 2021-10-18 at 1.12.19 PM.png

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Hey Bob, just trying to catch-up on some of your excellent postings that I missed.  I really liked No. 130.  The various sennin (Immortals) have such interesting powers like the ability to conjure dragons and horses from their gourds and bowls.  The detail on your tsuba looks great with many artistic attention to details (like the stylistic rain-dragon and realistic horse).  The golden amber that you wrote about was one of those aspects that the maker spent a lot of time doing but only very few people would ever spot it - amazing!  No. 130 is Hamano School and is signed "Shoryuken Teruyuki".  Teruyuki was a student of Hamano Shigeyuki but he was not one of the four masters of the Hamano School (so he never used the Miboku name like Shozui).  I’ve attached Teruyuki’s mei from Wakayama and I'm sure that it is a match.  Teruyuki worked in Edo in the mid to late 1800’s.


I also really liked your three orphan fuchi No. 133.  The Lungren Collection had so many great items, and I really enjoy going through that Auction Catalogue from time to time.  Orphans don't bother me if they are great art (and I think that yours are).  The moon's reflection in the stream on No. 133c (reproduced below) is really top notch.  That is a theme that Natsuo borrowed many times to great effect (and I remember Ford using it too...)  I also enjoyed the attention to detail in the Oni's shorts on No. 133b.  As you may know, because tigers were not endemic to Japan, the Japanese mistakenly believed for centuries that male tigers had stripes and female tigers had spots.  Even today, we often see togosu misidentified as a tiger and leopard when really its just a male and female tiger.  In the classic image of an Oni (demon), the Oni wears tiger fur shorts.  On your fuchi, one Oni has stripes on his shorts and the other Oni has spots - awesome attention to detail that gave me a good laugh.  The Japanese will fix broken or damaged treasures and instead of trying to hide the repair, they will often highlight it with gold lacquer.  The bowl (for example) was a fabulous work of art before it was dropped, and it's a shame that it was damaged, but if properly repaired, it is still a great work of art (albeit at a lower price...).  Shouldn't we feel the same way about orphan menuki and fuchigashira?  Anyone have a Masamune with the tip chipped off through the boshi?  I'll be happy to take it off your hands...




Bob's Orphans.JPG

Shoryuken Teruyuki.jpg

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Re Item No. 136


Any ideas ? - Is this ' Faux Nobuie ' or does it have some age or is is not possible to tell unless held in hand ?


I know it is not easy to give an opinion as there is nothing else to help put the tsuba in context...


Thanks !

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Item No. 138 - Iron Tsuba with shakudo   7.95 cmc x 7.48 cm x 0.46 cm over plain, 0.70 cm over rim


Carved with images of bushes and trees in winter ? ( No leaves ) Nice iron , ornate shakudo plugs , oily wet patina on plate showing careful forging and texturing. Evidence of being mounted several times.


In fact almost everything you would want in a tsuba by Nobuie - maybe just a little too good ?


Opinions anyone ?


Two pairs of photographs against different backgrounds bring out different details.








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Item No. 139 - Iron tsuba with gold accents   7.35 cm x 6.53 cm x 0.25 cm


Subject of watery landscapes with fisherman and boat , geese flying into land. Signed Kaneie ? Edo period


Subtle design and execution of subject , difficult to see clearly , contrasts with the almost brutal shaping and folding of the iron plate . Nicely forged and worked surface with good patina.


Bought some eight and a half years ago direct from Japan



Item No. 140  Iron Tsuba with gold and silver  7.85 cm x 7.44 cm x 0.49 cm


Subject of stylised map of Japan on a background of waves , together with a  banner in Silver and Gold in clouds on reverse. The names of the provinces inscribed in gold nunome. Signed Joshu Masanobu ju Umetada Tachibana Shigeyoshi.

Umetada School 17th Cent.


Painstaking work on the map , still in very good condition after nearly 400 years.





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Ok, your map tsuba is awesome, and I think even better than the one that's in the Osaka Museum (see link posted by Dirk).

I also really like 138, although in my limited experience, I have yet to see a Nobuiye in that shape before. Does anyone have a reference for a Nobuiye in that shape?

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Item No. 141 - Fuchi Kashira in Shibuichi , Gold and Shakudo


Subject of quail amongst millet, signed Naomine


Part of large lot , bought at auction 8 years ago





Item No. 142  Iron Tsuba  with gold   7.50 cm x 7.18 cm x 0.53 cm


Subject of Moon in clouds with cuckoo . Below , a stream flows quietly by ...  Signed Eiju ( Seiryuken ) with seal- originally with the Tetsugendo school.


A beautifully imagined scene with the depiction of the stream bank of particular note.








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