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Tourist Trap / Crap

Bob M.

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I recognize one of those extra large guards as a copy of a Ko-Katchushi from Sasano's collection [boar's]

A nice dragon on ebay  https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/small-Tsuba-guard-openwork-Samurai-dragon-chase-ball-brass-Sword-fitting-katana-/174847788879

And a not so nice dragon also on ebay  https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/265238098355?hash=item3dc16c31b3:g:xR0AAOSwe1NgxIQv



I have to say I am struggling to see any of those guards as genuine - Is the first one pictured in enamel? If so it is unusual but very blurry work.

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Hi Dale ,


Yes , the first one is in enamel , but it looks as if someone amateur was experimenting as to how to use it. Possibly following the design on a genuine piece ?


The second and third are outsize tsuba like plaques . Funnily enough the third has quite a nice fitted box , which has a label stuck to it - perhaps I should see if someone could translate - although as the label appears to be printed rather than hand written , I would not expect much... ( attached )


The fourth is straight chinese rubbish . Fifth  , sixth and seventh are all in soft metal with various coloured inlays / appliques as imitations of classic pieces - possibly Japanese ?


Number eight seems to be a real tsuba , gold plated . I guess that you can still purchase iron tsuba in Japan by the kilo and then have them plated , enamelled , whatever  , for sale to tourists in the markets or on auction platforms . 



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I don't mind the two large 'replicas' they are well done and if you can't afford the real thing, they are good talking pieces. Now this one I have seen copied and copied over and over till it gets so bad you can't make out what it started out as - I think it could be Japanese stealing back the design from Paul Chen [Hanwei] who had a collection of famous identities made as guards - they were copied almost immediately by other Chinese factories and I think ironically very well by the Japanese.

The "original" Hanwei had a distinctive rim that no one else has been able to replicate correctly. Amazing !! Even modern designs are being faked, nothing is safe !!





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The text on the tsuba box reads

Katchushi tsuba (甲冑師鍔)
‘Great god of arms, I beseech your aid against my enemy’ (南無八幡大苛) [I take it to be a variation of the Buddhist mantra 南無八幡大菩薩]

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