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


Bob M.
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Bob, 

both are nice TSUBA, but I like the AKASAKA very much!

What you see as a 'tiger tail' on the HIRADO TSUBA is possibly the dragon's tail shown from the underside with the ventral scales.

Have you never had the occasion to look under a dragon's tail? :glee:

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Hi Bob, Item 173 (dragon) is by Kunishige, and yes he worked in Hirado in Hizen province. Haynes says there are two or three generations signing with this mei from the early 1700’s. Wakayama says that they rarely used a Kao / Kakihan, but when they did it took one of two forms (yours is one of those forms). 

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Hey Bob, your Item 170 looks like it has a signature but I can't make it out in the photo (might need to see it in hand).  Instead of a daikon, the hitsuana are hossu.  A hossu is a priest's fly-whisk, and they symbolize the priest's right to pass on the teachings of Buddha.  The large carved kanji appear to be a poem or proverb, and based on a quick look, I see the following: flowers/petals, floating, under, water, moon, heart.  You may want to put a photo in the translation section and see if anyone can double check those characters.  The meaning may be akin to the proverb Kyoka Suigetsu: "flower seen in the mirror, moon on the water's surface".  Something like Zen the teaching of a monkey reaching for the moon's reflection in the water.  Some warriors saw themselves as the monkey and therefore interpreted this as a warning against foolishness or unattainable dreams, and other warriors saw themselves as the moon that could not be touched by another's sword.  The hossu hitsuana point to the authority to pass on the important learnings of this proverb.

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Item No. 174  Iron Tsubas  7.63 cm x 7.32 cm x 0.50 cm  and  7.20 cm x 6.93 cm x 0.50 cm

 

Subject of dragons in clouds - Choshu school signed as Tomokiyo & Nobuhisa

 

An associated ' daisho ' pair .  Is it possible to check these signatures / attributions against Wakayama or Haynes ? The only reference I can find in geneologies places the artist at the turn of the 17th/18th centuries.

 

In very good condition for their apparent age.

 

 

 

Item No. 175   Iron Tsubas   8.09 cm x 8.04 cm x 0.30 cm  and   7.74 cm x 7.64 cm x 0.34 cm

 

Another associated pair described as ' Ko Tosho cherry blossom & mon '.

 

Received opinion is that the blossom is in fact a Katabami flower , a mon of the Chosokabe clan . The angular cut out is Genji Monogatari , an Incense Game symbol. Any ideas about the mon or perhaps stylised flower on the right ?

 

Deep lustrous patinas on both these pieces.

 

 

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Item No. 176  Kozuka in Copper with gold and shakudo details.

 

Subject of two immortals - the Taoist sage Laozi ( Roshi ) and Tekkai Sennin . Signed on reverse Hamano Naoyuki and kao.

 

Roshi is reading a scroll and wearing a robe. Both characters have teeth and eyes detailed in gold , while Tekkai Sennin has a staff shown in shakudo. Some fine work on this piece.

 

 

Item No. 177  Tsuba in Iron with lead plugs   8.82 cm x 8.37 cm x 0.40 cm

 

Tsuba with morning glory, wheel, and hexagonal patterns engraved . Myochin Nobuie ? Early to Mid 19th cent. ?

 

Heavy piece showing some evidence of mounting and wear - could this be earlier than 19th cent. ?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Item No. 178   Iron Tsuba    8.73 cm x 8.65 cm x 0.29 cm

 

Subject of  -   Signal Boards ? or Monkey Toys ? or Temple Bells ?  ' Hozon Katchushi ( unban ) '  Any opinions ?

 

Thin Plate almost circular with carved sunbursts and nicely forged rim. Apparently mounted several times , also featuring good ' face of stone ' texturing together with deep brown consistent patina.

 

 

Item No. 179    Kozuka in shakudo , gold , silver and copper

 

Subject of decorative present wrap cords and holder ?

 

Unsigned , acquired as part of an auction lot about twelve years ago. 

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Item No. 180   Iron tsuba    7.22 cm x 7.05 cm x 0.51 cm

 

Subject of tori and pine trees  Tosa Myochin Kuniyoshi ? Mid Edo ?

 

Good even patina , tactile piece.  Is this artist referenced anywhere ?

 

 

Item No. 181   Iron Tsuba   7.52 cm x 7.20 cm x 0.42 cm

 

Subject of  - well , what is it ? single horned , cross between tiger/lion and shishi  or part kirin ? Signed Choshu Toyomasa Saku ? Late edo ?

 

Another tsuba from a labyrinthine school as previous item. Is there a mention of this artist out there ?

 

In fresh unmounted condition.

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A nue would have a snake for tail, while this animal's tail is definitely un-snake-like:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nue

 

Judging by the horn on top of the head and the flames coming out of the sides, my guess would have been a Kirin:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qilin

 

(OTOH, the lack of hooves plays against this interpretation)

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OK, one last try...  Item 181 is a komainu - see photos below and compare to Bob's tsuba...  Note the similar two pronged horn in the one photo (also same claws, face, teeth, tail, legs, etc. etc.)

 

Bob's Tsuba:

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Komainu (see two pronged horn?) and Shishi:

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Another Komainu (single pronged horn in this case, but it doesn't matter - see claws, tail, face, etc.):

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There are many varieties of unicorns in Japanese/Chinese mythology. The flames from the sides (circled in red in the picture below) and the "moustache" (circled in green) on the animal in Bob's tsuba don't seem to match the depictions of the Komainu that you posted:

 

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In fact, the sacred flames are a classical attribute of the Kirin, and the moustache also happens (pictures from the Wiki article linked above):

 

1205274289_lossy-page1-1024px-Kinesiskt_lyckobdande_fabeldjur_med_drakhuvud_hjortkropp_med_fjll_oxsvans_frn_cirka_1750_-_Hallwylska_museet_-_95453_tif.thumb.jpg.0b63b217b615318268515820a0cbc13d.jpgQingQilin.jpg.cb38331380c9e8ac7e1b7e5d531f9a09.jpg

 

You can also see that the pronged horn is not unusual. OTOH, as I wrote above, a Kirin is supposed to have hooved feet. Perhaps the maker of Bob's tsuba combined the attributes of different mythical beasts.

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The "Kirin" entry of Joly's "Legend in Japanese Art" (see this link) includes a list of mythical horned beasts. I would say that the Hakutaku is the one whose attributes most closely match those on Bob's beast:

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P.S. here is the description of the netsuke above from the catalogue of a 2017 auction at Van Ham (it fetched 24510 EUR including buyer fee):
 

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P.P.S. here is a painting where a similar beast is indeed tagged 白澤 (Bai Ze or Hakutaku):

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  • 2 weeks later...

Item No. 182   Iron tsuba   7.32 cm x 7.18 cm x 0.50 cm

 

Sukashi Tsuba attributed as a ' Ko Shoami Spool '

 

Delicately carved with rounded rim and good patina.

 

 

Item No. 183   Iron Tsuba 6.93 cm x 6.68 cm x 0.53 cm

 

Tsuba attributed to Akasaka  18th cent. subject of Mon

 

Good colour

 

 

 

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Re Item No. 181

 

Thanks to everyone for their contributions on this.

 

From the evidence presented , I think we must accept that the creature depicted is a Hakutaku , as suggested by Pietro . However there appear to be multiple interpretations and varying images in Japanese literature and art and so we should keep an open mind on the subject.

 

Thanks again !

 

Regards

Bob

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Dear Bob and Pietro, I feel I must correct this misidentification.  Item #181 is not a Hakutaku.  A Hakutaku has multiple horns and additional eyes on its side.  All anyone has to do to find out for themselves is to search hakutaku on the Internet (see photo of search below).  You will see that 99% of the photos are the same beast.  Unfortunately, Joly (in his famous book on Legends) made a mistake (as seen in Pietro's post) and some auction houses (also seen in Pietro's posts) looked at Joly's book and repeated his mistake.  There is even a book entitled Hakutaku that has a correct Hakutaku pictured on the front (artists/tsuba makers inevitably show Hakutaku with multiple horns and multiple eyes on their sides).  The literature is not really in dispute, Joly just made an error (and it is well know that he made many errors) and it needs to be corrected.

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Tanto54 said:

Dear Bob and Pietro, I feel I must correct this misidentification.  Item #181 is not a Hakutaku.  A Hakutaku has multiple horns and additional eyes on its side.  All anyone has to do to find out for themselves is to search hakutaku on the Internet (see photo of search below).  You will see that 99% of the photos are the same beast.  Unfortunately, Joly (in his famous book on Legends) made a mistake (as seen in Pietro's post) and some auction houses (also seen in Pietro's posts) looked at Joly's book and repeated his mistake.  There is even a book entitled Hakutaku that has a correct Hakutaku pictured on the front (artists/tsuba makers inevitably show Hakutaku with multiple horns and multiple eyes on their sides).  The literature is not really in dispute, Joly just made an error (and it is well know that he made many errors) and it needs to be corrected.

 

I know about the "other" Hakutaku, see the article by Rosemary Bandini I linked above. However, we are discussing imaginary beings, it is well possible that the same name was used for several beasts over the centuries and Joly just followed a different (older?) tradition. After all the antique painting I linked above does represent a beast with just two regular eyes, which is still named 白澤, i.e. Hakutaku.

An image search starting from that painting yields this page:

https://zhuanlan-zhihu-com.translate.goog/p/252839771?_x_tr_sl=zh-CN&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=fr&_x_tr_pto=wapp

The google translation is rough, but it appears to suggest that the beast acquired its additional eyes when it moved from China to Japan...

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