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Ciro
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Dear Members,

 

could you please share your knowledge with me on these fittings.

 

I am very new in collecting and they look quite interesting to me.


Thank you in advance

 

 

 

 

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Hi Ciro,

The signature on the tsuba reads Mogari[shi] nyudo Soten sei. The Soten school was based in Hikone and often depicted samurai and battle scenes. 
 

The theme on this one looks like the dragon king Ryujin handing something, maybe a jewel to a warrior. I’m not sure of the exact legend it refers to though. 

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Dear Ciro,

 

Your fittings refer to a number of interesting legends.  John is correct about the tsuba showing the Dragon King giving the Tide-Controlling Jewels to Hoori (these jewels were supposedly used by Japan in its wars with Korea - see below for more details).  Most people will tell you that your fuchigashira is Shoki (The Demon Queller) but it instead it is Watanabe No Tsuna the hero of the Ibaraki-doji legend.  There was a demon causing problems at the Rashomon Gate and Watanabe No Tsuna cut off its arm and chased it away (see below for more details).  Finally, your menuki (I can only see one) is a Hannya Mask from the Noh Theater representing a female demon.  Look up Hannya on the internet and you will find lots of information and several of the stories (the best, in my opinion, is about a woman who becomes very jealous and transforms into a demon incinerating the guy who made her jealous who is hiding under a big metal bell - this is why you often see a serpent with this face coiled around a bell in Japanese sword fittings).


Tsuba:  There are many variations to the story.  Basically, Ryujin is the Dragon King (who is the ruler of the seas) who owns the two Tide Jewels (one can make the tide ebb and the other makes the tide flow).  In the story, Ryujin (who is represented wearing a dragon crown or with a dragon on his back) or his messenger Hakuja (who is a white serpent with the face of a man) gives the Tide Jewels to Hoori (his son-in-law).  Hoori (also known as Hohodemi or Yama Sachi Hiko) is the mortal Hunter from the Tale of the Happy Hunter (about two brothers - one a fisherman and the other a hunter).  The Hunter (Hoori) borrows his brother’s (Umi Sachi Hiko - the fisherman's) magic fish hook and then loses it making his brother very angry.  Hoori goes into the sea to find the fish hook and ends up staying for several years and marrying the Dragon King’s daughter.  Later, when he decides to return to dry land, the Dragon King gives/sends him the two Tide Jewels, which were later used to defeat the two "Korean Invasions".  Some variations of the story includes Hachiman (the God of War) as an infant in the arms of Takenouchi no Sukune (usually represented with a long white beard and royal clothing) who is in a boat being presented the Tide Jewels from the Dragon King (or his messenger) who is in the water.  The back of your tsuba may incorporate other elements of this story.

 

Fuchigashira: Here's the story from the Internet - According to legend in the late 10th century of Heian Period Japan, Ibaraki-doji, a notorious Oni, resided at Rashomon Gate in Kyoto. Ibaraki-doji harassed people who tried to pass through the gate until a heroic samurai named Watanabe no Tsuna, a loyal retainer of Minamoto no Raiko, went to subdue the creature. When Tsuna arrived at Rashomon Gate he was carrying a sign that says 'prohibited' (like the one on your kashira - see wood block below), and he was attacked by Ibaraki-doji.  However, Tsuna was a strong and valiant swordsman who was able to defend himself against the ferocious attack. The battle raged on until Tsuna drew his katana and severed the arm of the demon. Screaming in pain Ibaraki-doji ran away from Tsuna, leaving the severed arm behind. Tsuna swept up Ibaraki-doji's arm as a trophy. When he arrived home at his mansion he wrapped up the severed arm and locked it away in a chest.  A few days later, an elderly woman claiming to be Tsuna's aunt, Mashiba, came to visit him. During the conversation, she aunt asked her nephew to recount how he fought with the demon, and when Tsuna mentioned that he had the severed arm in his possession, his aunt was curious and asked to see it. The unsuspecting Tsuna brought out the chest with Ibaraki-doji's arm inside and when he removed the arm, his aunt revealed herself as being Ibaraki-doji in disguise. She grabbed the arm and escaped from Tsuna's mansion. Tsuna was astonished that Ibaraki-doji had posed as his elderly aunt and did not give chase. However, even after retrieving the arm, Ibaraki-doji never returned to dwell at Rashomon Gate again.
 

 

 

 

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