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Hi All,

This object is currently on sale in a French auction. It is described as a tsuba but it's obviously something else, it looks as if it would be attached to the saya rather than the blade. If that is the case, what would be the point of simulating a tsuba?




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Dear Pietro.


After the Haitorei a lot of very skilled craftsmen suddenly found their livelihood under threat.  Fortunately a thirst in the west for Japonisme came to their aid.  Some items were sold as antique, some were made especially for export and a whole host of items were produced as examples of Japanese decorative art.  We have all seen the cutlery with kozuka handles, menu holders and so forth.  My Father in law had a beautiful Vesta case or match safe in iron with exquisite takazogan, clearly made by a fittings craftsman but a Western artefact.  Tsuba shaped objects such as you illustrate do crop up mounted with small clocks and as Sebastien suggests, photograph frames.  In this case I do not think this is converted, I can't visualise a seppa dai fitting with the design, but I suspect it was made as a tsuba shaped object with the frame, never converted from a truly Japanese object.

 Many years ago I came across an illustration of a pair of candlesticks, each formed by stacking twenty or so fuchi on a tsuba and soldering the whole thing together.  Upset me for a long time.  


All the best.

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could be used as a fancy offline uneven hand guard for a Nagitana ? lol

Most likely made into a picture frame like said above.

I've seen Kozuka sets turned into handles for European knives and fork sets.

Almost stopped breathing for a bit and gagged to take air back in.

Looks like it was a nice piece before someone decided to mount Grandma in it.

thanks for sharing.

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I think it's just a tsuba for a bokken. Possibly this one was originally made to be mounted on a wood sword (late Edo to Showa), but I've seen some true old tsuba modified accordingly.

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8 hours ago, Toryu2020 said:

Is the other side decorated? If not then I vote for "door handle" as suggested...


Yes, the other side is decorated:


BTW, this is the link to the auction in the (unlikely!) case that anybody is interested:


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It could have started out as an ordinary tsuba with a flush rather than raised seppa-dai from my experiment with the image - still doesn't explain why it was done?


The same auction house has  https://www.drouotonline.com/l/15270086-japon-tsuba-bronze---boucle-en  The 'bronze' tsuba is a steel bottle opener from the 1960s

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1 hour ago, Spartancrest said:

The same auction house has  https://www.drouotonline.com/l/15270086-japon-tsuba-bronze---boucle-en  The 'bronze' tsuba is a steel bottle opener from the 1960s


It's a different auction house - this one in Belgium. "Drouot Digital" is an aggregator site for auctions. 


Of all the explanations proposed above, "bokken tsuba" seems the least unlikely to me, but what do I know.

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Dear Pietro,

this object is clearly a picture frame that is supposed to give the appearance of being made from a genuine tsuba.
I agree with Dale that this piece only looks like a tsuba. The poor workmanship and the lack of seppadai suggest a fake,
which was made for the western market to satisfy the hunger for Japanese antiques around the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century 
(as wonderful described by Geraint!).

For comparison here are some pictures of another ´picture frame tsuba´ out of my own collection, which unfortunately was made from a nice Choshu tsuba.

Sorry for the bad picture quality. I´ll do better when this one enters the for sale section :roll:








All the best,


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