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My first tsuba purchase Heianjo


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I would like to thank everyone for their time and comments on a previous thread on a signed tsuba..  I disregarded that piece but ended up being lucky enough that Nihonto Australia was coming to my city and brought a heap of tsuba to have a look at and buy. Thanks John 


having read Kokubo's Ten Rules of Tsuba Collecting I followed rule number 3..,

Respect and learn from other collector's opinions and knowledge... so after narrowing the choice to a few I asked some other collectors in the room their thoughts and they steered me towards this piece... a Japanese version of ying and yang... 


I was worried that the cut outs didn’t really look like they were finished to a high standard as they were not overly straight and symmetrical but I really was drawn to all the inlay work...Their advice was it was old and not to worry... 


it wasn’t until hours later at home I finally saw the ying yang shape the others were seeing... I was concentrating on the ugly U misshaped voids not the iron that was still there...


Ah...you need to look at what’s there...not what you don’t have.....as soon as that thought popped into my head my next thought was...

wow I need to live life like this motto too.


sorry the story is so long but for those who read it I thought I would share.

I’m not sure what the Japanese meaning of this piece is but now when ever I look or think about it to me it means 


“only look at what you have and don’t worry about what’s not there...”


Hopefully I chosen well and it’s a good piece..

mid edo?

what thoughts do you all have on the shape, it’s meaning and the school it’s from?




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Hello Adam,


Your Heianjō-zōgan tsuba looks genuinely nice. Thank you for sharing it.  I currently have a couple in my personal collection as well that I think run a wide range of ages.  As for determining age of your tsuba I would need to have more photos of your tsuba at different angles showing the rim and allowing for a more detailed examination of the brass inlays and how they are applied to surface of the tsuba.   

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On 4/3/2021 at 4:18 AM, Japan2112 said:

Nicer pierced maru gata version of heianjo zogan. Check out Sergei Vashavsky's write up on brass inlaid tsuba. (I think he focuses more on Onin and Yoshiro but...)




Thanks everyone for their thoughts... I will take some close up pictures to find out some more information from this piece.

just out of interest why is it called pierced... would one hole be punched then a saw used to cut the shape or is it done with a hammer and chisel and punched out....

would files had been used too?

just wondering why the piece has a few flat spots in the curves and other parts are not totally even and straight 

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Hello Adam,


Thanks for sharing the additional photo. The tsuba has the characteristic squared or rounded-square rim common to Heianjō-zōgan tsuba. The inlays are clearly laid above the surface of the plate and not flushed to the surface. Based upon these characteristics it is a Edo Period Heianjō-zōgan tsuba likely made during the early to mid-part of the historical period.  All the work on this tsuba would have been done by hand therefore it does not appear to be as perfect as it would have been done by machining in modern times. The openwork design would have been cut using tempered steel saws and would have then been finished by filing the inside surfaces of the openwork design.     

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It does intrigue me why not file this section a little bit more to create a perfect piece... would it have been a hard task back then to warrant the extra work?


It’s always been my understanding that the Japanese produced high quality works back then or am I being way to critical and comparing this piece internet pictures of possibly high end works.

would it more common  in earlier edo as tools were more cruder so it was actually really hard to get the pieces to a high standard 


thanks everyone for their input... I am learning a lot from this piece 


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Hi Adam,

Thank you for highlight on the photo with what you are talking about specifically. I really cannot tell for sure what the caused this without examining the tsuba at all angles under good lighting while in hand. It might be due a major subsurface inclusion in the metal of the tsuba or some type of damage to inside surface of the openwork but that is all just speculation on my part without examining it in hand.      

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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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