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Strange shaped - hybrid?


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Robert: The auction did not have much information.

Status : No noticeable scratches or stains. ( details ) An unusually shaped iron brim. A rare item. Preservation certification is inevitable. The size is 9,1 in length x 6,05 in width x 0.55 cm in thickness. No damage and no defects. 

The seller had no other items for sale so it is likely to be a family sale. I assume the comment "Preservation certification is inevitable." Might indicate it would stand up to Shinsa?



I have had a closer look at the hooked 'quillion' and it has a certain Hokusai's 'Great Wave' feel to it, makes sense from the turbulent water decoration on the flat portion of the guard. The only other one I have seen was a long time ago and I do remember it was very rusty and neglected - it was so long ago I have no record of it except in my memory [it is a design that would tend to stick in the mind] B.C. - before computers!

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Well there has not been a lot of information on the strange shape of the guard, but I did remember a similar 'style' which does turn up if only rarely. 



This one is in the Vancouver Museum  unfortunately it doesn't show the side view but the diagram is how it is constructed with a right angle bend over one side. I can't be sure but the bend is towards the blade, I would imagine away from the hand?

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Wow, never seen anything like either of those tsuba.

The elongated 'crashing wave" nara tsuba makes sense conceptually,

but the 90 bend on the monkey tsuba has some serious "outside the box" thinking, with a dash of audacity from the tsubako who made it.


Dale, I think you're right in assuming the 90 bend on the monkey tsuba has to go towards the blade for two reasons:

1- assuming it's for a katana, the view we're presented with is the omote side, with the kozuka-hitsu-ana on the left of the nakago-ana, so the bent part goes away from the hand of the user.

2- if the bent part actually went towards the hand, there's no way you could fit your hand in there after it has been mounted on a sword, or even if you could, your knuckles would be pretty banged up after using the sword.


It's also interesting that the protruding "bent part" of both tsuba are on opposite ends of the nakago.

Having it extend out toward the cutting edge of the blade might potentially give some additional function, like the "hook" on a jitte maybe?

Or it could be purely an aesthetic thing for both of them lol.

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Glen: I can't help thinking the design is adapted from European styles - just like this later military folding guard [also Japanese] The folding section in this case because of the way it was worn vertical, and close to the body. There may well have been a parrying aspect to the design as you say much like a Jitte - I have had one comment on the Vancouver example from S. King who pointed out that it would not need a stand for display - being able to stand on its own legs so to speak. [I was thinking the storage box if any, would be much higher than the normal ones] :)



I have since found additional images for the Vancouver guard - http://openmov.museumofvancouver.ca/object/asian-studies/db-164

Frustratingly it does not show a side view but it is mentioned in the description.  [I always remember a strange face!]

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I just stumbled on this Pinterest post of a "Weird tsuba" https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/464855992764970351/

Basically the same type as that in the Vancouver Museum.  This one is mounted so we see how it was worn on the sword. 

Just a theory, but having that flange on the bottom away from the cutting edge allows the sword to lie on a flat surface without rolling and with the edge the correct way up, handy if you don't happen to have a Kake handy?


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  • 2 weeks later...

Dale, you are the master of hunting for comparison examples :bowdown:


I think either "book end" style or "kake" style would work.

However,  I like your "kake" suggestion more, because it seems to be the most logical reason for this style's existence :thumbsup:

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I think the Vancouver Tsuba is a version of this poem:


The monkey is reaching
For the moon in the water.
Until death overtakes him
He’ll never give up.
If he’d let go the branch and
Disappear in the deep pool,
The whole world would shine
With dazzling pureness.

– Hakuin

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  • 3 months later...

Well Bruno that just goes to show how eBay is the 'Don't Go To' for tsuba - they are charging twice the price you can buy it from Yahoo Japan, Buyee etc.

The Buy it now price is  $544.43 USD on Jauce not $1,287.13 !! https://www.jauce.com/auction/e1048605936  I firmly believe there is one price for people who buy direct from Japanese auction sites and Gaijin prices on eBay.

Brian I think you are absolutely correct. All the bent angle guards can stay upright and not roll around. [not the first 'wave' example unfortunately] Handy if you are out and about without a Kake !

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