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Help to find fittings to Hoan Tsuba


BjornLundin
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Dear everyone.

 

I need all your help. This is a tricky one for me.

 

I am in the process to locate and get different pieces to work together for a koshirae project for my wakizashi. 

 

The Tsuba is a Hoan and I find it hard to know what will work with it.  One word I think of when studying the tsuba is solemn. 

 

One idea is a Soten style FK set. 

 

SO please add your ideas :) Very much appreciation from my side for any ideas!

tsuba.jpg

soten fk.PNG

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Dear Bjorn, very nice tsuba - I really like it.  I believe that most good koshirae were tied together in a meaningful theme that was important to the owner.  If the sword is the “soul” of the Samurai and the single most important item to him, why would he just put together a bunch of random tosogu on his sword?  I think that your tsuba is a stylized chrysanthemum which symbolizes Autumn, Purity, Longevity and Nobility, and is featured in many different legends and motifs like “the Chrysanthemum Boy,” "the Four Gentlemen," “Master of the Five Willows”, etc.  So in addition to choosing other tosogu to go with your tsuba’s color and “solemn” style, you might want to choose a matching theme that is important to you too.

 

For example, if you like the Four Gentlemen, then you would want to find tosogu that match your tsuba in color and style that have the other three flowers/plants of this grouping.  Remember that the Japanese view of flowers was very different from most Western perspectives.  The Four Gentlemen (Shikunshi) was a well known theme to Samurai that was adopted from Chinese philosophy and consisted of orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum and plum.  The traits represented by these plants exemplified Bushido (the Warrior’s Way). 

 

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Björn,

that is a very nice TSUBA, and as you are a goldsmith I am optimistic that you could restore it yourself.

I could imagine this TSUBA in a plain TENSHÔ KOSHIRAE with simple, plain KODOGU. Black SAME, black leather ITO, black horn KASHIRA. 
No other metals than iron, except perhaps small gold decoration like KARAKUSA on the FUCHI. 

Just the 2 YEN of my taste.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi, thank you for everyone advice and sorry for the absence! 

 

I was also thinking in the same are area and now I can put a name to it "Tensho Koshirae" :) with black Same. 

 

I have some experience with metal work, but I think I am far away to even try to do something to this or other antiques. What do you think needs to be restored? 

 

Another theme, would be of the autumn. 

 

For the FK, a good iron would be perfect. The horse FK set I have been oogling before at touken-matsumoto but it has been unsold for a quite some time and I think it is a bit over priced, but I have a perfect menuki matching it. 

There is a Funada Ikkin Yoshimori FK set at Yohindo https://yuhindo.com/funada-ikkin-fuchigashira/ but I think that set would then shift the focus point from the tsuba. For me this is very very nice.

 

Alix posted a FK set of Minamoto no Yoshitsune, that might be an alternative, another he posted is of a scare crow. 

 

Ford, also posted of "simple/solemn" iron FK set, I took it of his facebook page https://www.facebook.com/tsubaman/posts/2271707079556643

 

I like Fords version, but I also like to have a story :) 

 

What do you all think!

 

So hard.

 

 

 

 

image.png.284589317c179a6c8ee4a111933e2a3f.pngimage.png.12cf36e8dc8403d1b07bcd605d73ced0.pngimage.png.b7cf4cc6614ff58cf4596410dfa150ae.pngimage.thumb.png.91a402b4f1e65a012528f04b9b655483.png

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Björn,

as John said! I like Ford's FUCHI-KASHIRA set as well and I think it would be a good match.

The TSUBA is missing an inlay (probably gold), and I think you could restore it. If not, I am sure Ford could help.

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Ah, the left one. Yes I was also thinking that it fell out and some one replaced it with a silver one. 

 

Then I thought that when the kogai hitsu-ana was filled, they replaced the gold or it was already lost then with a silver one to be more "in balance" ...  Making a new gold one wouldnt be of much trouble, but replacing it on the tsuba is another story :| 

 

There is also a possible crack in the right gold infill next to kozuka hitsu-ana. Alas it has been around. 

 

I will contact Ford and check with him. 

 

Thank you again!

 

Best Björn

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Björn,

the 'replacement' doesn't look like silver. It could even be glue or lead or whatever. But you have it in hand and will know better. 
Often, metal parts were traditionally glued in with URUSHI (lacquer), but a modern material like two components glue will certainly work as well.

Ford will tell you what is best. 

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Hi Bjorn,

 

I think you should do justice to the stylism of your tsuba.


Simple, expressive and focused on the essential.


But that also depends on what kind of tsuka binding and koshirae in general you have here.
I personally think that a good F.K. like this one from Ford could do justice to your tsuba....
It should be an F.K. made of iron. Soft metal always has a cheap touch for me....

Your tsuba is nice, but I wonder who wrote the attrubation here?


For a Hoan tsuba, I don't think the iron fits, and neither does the stylism.
(But of course I can be wrong....) i do but not think so.

 

Hoan Tsuba are usually tsuba of the very best iron quality like you see in Owari, Yagyu and very early Akasaka.
Your tsuba here seems to me but rather from the Shoami line to come...

Iyo or Awa.

 

Also you have to consider that the Hoan group made muskets in the late till lattest Edo period and no longer had the permission to make tsuba!
So I abstain from an exact attribution of this piece.

 

Either way-

i personally would try to find me a nice iron Ensemble!

 

Christian

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Hi Christian, thank you for the information. For a person with limited knowledge, like mysel,f these notes and suggestion is a gold mine. I found a similar tsuba from Artur and I hope to get it home to compare the workmanship. Hopefully learning something in the process :P

 

Anyway, I cant tell from what school it is from and I got it due to that it struck a chord in me :) It is very nice ^^

 

I agree that a iron FK set would be good and Ford work is the best option right now. Commission a new one is a bit over my budget at the moment and I need to save a bit to order it, to keep the wife happy. Maybe something will pop up in between, but so far after a few months of looking, I have not really found something that for me is a good match.

 

Why I refer it to Hoan is due to the paper work that came with it. I believe it is a later Hoan piece as stated in the papers?

 

Sorry for the large file size. 

 

image.thumb.png.160a54392ca8a95fee2538f832ee23d8.png

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The attribution is on the other side of the papers, but I can see from the ink through the paper that it does say Kodai Hoan.

Given that there were many many generations, I personally interpret kodai Hoan to mean anything after the 3rd gen. That Kodai thing varies from school to school, and one way of interpreting it is to say "we don't know, but not the early guys".

 

One of the generations was a bit of a troublemaker and got the family demoted from making tsuba. They had a long history as ironworkers, I think for boats and such?

Probably the only bit of help I can give is that the fill in of the sukashi with gold was probably done later. With this design of tsuba, it seems to have been a popular thing. I have seen them filled in with gold, silver, yamagane, shakudo.

This is one of the cleaner examples that I remember. That many fillings, and one or two tend to get knocked out.

 

Whatever f/k you chose, I would recommend iron. Whether or not any gold on the f/k is up to you.

Ones like Fords being iron with gold shitodome is probably the direction I would personally go, though it might be a bit too symetric for the Japanese asmyetric mindset.

 

Curran

 

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On 9/14/2021 at 3:08 PM, Tanto54 said:

Dear Bjorn, very nice tsuba - I really like it.  I believe that most good koshirae were tied together in a meaningful theme that was important to the owner.  If the sword is the “soul” of the Samurai and the single most important item to him, why would he just put together a bunch of random tosogu on his sword?  I think that your tsuba is a stylized chrysanthemum which symbolizes Autumn, Purity, Longevity and Nobility, and is featured in many different legends and motifs like “the Chrysanthemum Boy,” "the Four Gentlemen," “Master of the Five Willows”, etc.  So in addition to choosing other tosogu to go with your tsuba’s color and “solemn” style, you might want to choose a matching theme that is important to you too.

 

For example, if you like the Four Gentlemen, then you would want to find tosogu that match your tsuba in color and style that have the other three flowers/plants of this grouping.  Remember that the Japanese view of flowers was very different from most Western perspectives.  The Four Gentlemen (Shikunshi) was a well known theme to Samurai that was adopted from Chinese philosophy and consisted of orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum and plum.  The traits represented by these plants exemplified Bushido (the Warrior’s Way). 

 

 

Hi, I realized that I have not looked at Tsuka´s for sale, and found this one at AoiArt. Iron FK, with plum blossoms. This could be another option as suggested to go with the four gentlemen. To complete the four Gentlemen then I further need bamboo and orchid to represent the set. The quality looks ok, but it is possible a little too "much" going on comparing to the tsuba. What can be done to the iron to remove the rust? oil or painstaking cleaning with a toothpick.

 

What do you all think?

 

https://www.aoijapan.com/tsuka-2/

 

image.thumb.png.a280222b911424de6bba67d41d94f2f2.png

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33 minutes ago, BjornLundin said:

 

Hi, I realized that I have not looked at Tsuka (no plural in Japanese nouns!) for sale, and found this one at AoiArt. ....

Hi Björn,

as all NAKAGO are not created equal, it can be very difficult to fit an existing TSUKA to a blade. That is work for experts and requires special tools. In some cases it does not work out at all.

The second objection I see is that the TOSOGU of the AOI  Art TSUKA are nice, but far from the TENSHO line which we all saw as good solution.

Personally I would not invest that (huge) sum in a project that might a) not look so good, and b) requires a lot of work to make it fit. 

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1 hour ago, ROKUJURO said:

Hi Björn,

as all NAKAGO are not created equal, it can be very difficult to fit an existing TSUKA to a blade. That is work for experts and requires special tools. In some cases it does not work out at all.

The second objection I see is that the TOSOGU of the AOI  Art TSUKA are nice, but far from the TENSHO line which we all saw as good solution.

Personally I would not invest that (huge) sum in a project that might a) not look so good, and b) requires a lot of work to make it fit. 

 

Thank you Jean,

 

I was more thinking of removing the fushi and kashira and then commission a new tsuka to be made together with the saya. Alas, that might not be the correct thing to do.

 

:) I am also inclined to agree that the tensho line is a better solution but sometimes I am wrong. 

 

Best Björn

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Björn,

I am convinced that there is no such thing as better or worse (or right and wrong) in this field! It is all a matter of taste and individuel preference. If you could talk to a SAMURAI of his era, he might have had completely different ideas compared to a Japanese of our era, and we Westerners have still a different approach to the subject of what would be seen as 'fitting' or not.

In the end, the completed sword should suit your taste.

On the other hand, I have made the experience with myself that my sense of aesthetics or 'balance' has changed with the many years since I am dealing with this subject of SAMURAI culture, so......PANTA RHEI.....

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