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Meaning of "beam" on Tosogu


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My second thought is 拍子木 Hyoshigi sticks/clappers, used to signal the start of battle; still used in Sumo timing today.

 

Varieties are used by priests, and local fire patrols. I sent a set to Brian a couple of years back, but they never made it through the post. Perhaps the description 'rhythm sticks' proved tempting for someone?

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The hyōshigi is a simple Japanese musical instrument, consisting of two pieces of hardwood or bamboo often connected by a thin ornamental rope. The clappers are played together or on the floor to create a cracking sound. Sometimes they are struck slowly at first, then faster and faster.  Also very prevalent in kabuki.

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Here I go again, wandering away off the original track/thread but JFYI the Australian aboriginals had no musical instruments (except in the Northern Territory- Arnhem Land area where they had the 'didgeridoo', a wooden drone tube), instead, everywhere else they only had 'clap sticks' or two boomerangs clacking together to beat time during their frequently held Corroborees/ sing songs. Basic but effective. Some of you might like to add that not very useful information to your lexicons of trivia.

Roger j

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I think you're referring to the "udenuki-ana" Peter.

No one knows for sure, but the most accepted reason for the different sized holes is a "sun and moon" motif, and they were mot likely used to wrap a cord through and secure it to the samurai's wrist during battle (more likely those who were on horseback). That particular use trailed off eventually as warfare shifted away from cavalry and more towards foot soldiers. When it was added to tsuba after that shift in tactics, it was primarily for a decorative aspect.

 

That it was the sign of a "ronin" is more likely a myth conjured up by a modern novelist or storyteller. :)

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Just throwing this little spin of what the vertical 'beams' or bars may also represent.  Taken from https://varshavskycollection.com/kamakura-bori-tsuba/

image.thumb.png.1b49ef3598713c95d952f71fab667e9d.png

 

Possible? The Udenuki-ana can also represent water droplets in a design. Once again the original artist is making us speculate and keep guessing - part of the mystique of the art form.

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I feel I should explain the fairly useless post by me, above, re the Clack or clap sticks. The thought was that the Australian aboriginals are probably the most primitive people on earth, functioning with simple bone, stone, shell, wooden tools but not without an intelligence that allows them to subsist and exist in this, much of it, dry, tough, rugged country.  Then you have the Japanese, highly sophisticated and cultured in their Japanese way- and yet the musical instruments there- what have they- drums, a stringed violin/banjo type instrument and clack sticks. Almost certainly more such as whistles etc. But clack sticks !

Roger j

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Those could be 'rising mist' I guess as they suggest, or even falling rain 'legs' as in 雨脚, 雨足 Ama-ashi.

 

Re Hyoshi, hyoshigi.

 

The best ones are beautifully shaped, fashioned from just the right kind and section of hardwood to produce a clear ring, (depending on where you ping them together). The sound certainly draws the attention, like someone striking a wineglass at dinner.

 

The number of clacks and the frequency with which they are hit, signal different things. I was looking at a ‘music’ notation chart earlier indicating signals for battle movements, for Taiko and Hyoshigi.

 

Personally I find them fascinating and tend to buy up any that come along as they are not highly valued any more here in Japan. Their shapes and sizes seem to vary greatly as to purpose, from rough sets for Hi no Yojin 火の用心 for example to fine smooth black sets for inserting into a priest's kimono sleeve.

 

D3E97E6A-5233-4D10-8FDD-502EA5D65C78.thumb.jpeg.93b08176f57d36af8ff15a696848b476.jpeg

 

1A28113E-78E7-4098-B12E-A72EB70F18B0.thumb.jpeg.013a2a7f0ebc92ac68042ec362d81e90.jpeg

 

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Here's another variation on the design used on a plain iron tsuba from end of Muromachi era.  These ones
are jogi, or measuring sticks (basically rulers).  The suggestion is that smaller scale ones may be the sangi counting sticks. Of course we cant always know what the tsuba-shi had in mind with the design.

 

jogi.thumb.jpeg.00b8cda70503dde34281b6c7b2526424.jpeg

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OK, unless there are any more options to add, I think it's SUMMARY time ;)

And again, these associations are not absolutes. I'm just trying to find distinguishing characteristics and differences...

 

1- long skinny, 2 sticks, with square ends:  JOGI (measuring sticks/rulers)

image.png.7d5b1f2f44c4481ec210b06221a4edb7.png

 

2- thicker, 2 sticks, with square ends, side by side or crossing each other: HYOSHIGI 拍子木  (clappers/rhythm sticks)... which has connections to kabuki and battle signaling.

image.png.26e08ca58676846a17e9a79fa604f140.png  image.png.184d2543410315e83cc105cd71fc72a9.png

 

3- not sure if these would look much different from# 1 or 2, but presumably they would be perfectly parallel and level or also involve some perpendicular sticks too: SANGI 算木(counting sticks)

like these maybe:

 image.png.be181d439011d60a511802e6b86e482d.png

an Owari example from Sasano stating "cross braces (Sangi)":

image.png.b1cd45d04fb966042a9676bf08d75085.png

 

4- vertical parallel bars with with rounded ends (maybe a key feature here?), has two possible interpretations so far:

a) NIBIKI (RISING MIST BANDS). This is how Sasano described these first two tsuba examples sold at Sotheby's.

   *Jean Collin notes in a post below, that "mist" is typically represented by horizontal bars that have a "flowing" connection to each other, and provided the third image (below) as an example.

b) SCHOLAR'S SCROLLS. Sergei Varshavsky suggested this alternate explanation for the VERTICAL BARS with rounded ends, by referring to descriptions in "Symbols of Japan", by Merilly Baird.

VERTICAL AND SEPARATE: image.png.d6cec86f07252771c6d7b81da24f9488.png image.png.539b7b56692b3d1f8d475794c32bf441.png          HORIZONTAL AND FLOWING: image.png.33995b25b978e7acb614687b9aef4f1b.png

 

5- more than two and up to 8, staggered "blocks", that are touching/connected (usually accompanied by some type of garden or pond motif):  YATSUHASHI wood plank walking bridges

image.png.f23a62f34ab39e734c0d2e50c3351805.pngimage.png.af815976860d4ee6b9827ecb16ef6317.pngimage.png.d85ff5c07fa8a9b7f1ac708abbe04e93.png

 

 

And just to totally mess with everyone, what the heck are these "I-beam" sukashi? from Yamakichibei?

image.png.982cd6359a1b926faf5463bb1d2973a0.png  image.png.0277f518ed9e2a3c44e117d77a919ed0.png

 

Edited by GRC
added alternate views for #4 after reading Jean's post and reading the info about the tsuba that Dale posted from the Varshavsky Collection.
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I would like to express my doubt concerning 4) as 'rising mist' (VARSHAVSKY collection). Mist or fog usually occurs parallel to the earth surface in nature, so unless the TSUBASHI did not intend the TSUBA to be seen in an unusual angle (which I have problems to imagine) I am not so sure about this interpretation.

In other TSUBA mist or clouds are always depicted horizontally:

Tsuba, goose and mist design - AGSA Collection


I have seen rain depicted as big droplets (in KO-TOSHO TSUBA) or as fine parallel grooves, often in an angle, in later TSUBA.   

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I'm with you on that one Jean. which is why I suggested maybe rain? ... of the torrential downpour type maybe? Otherwise, vertical "mist" doesn't make too much sense.

Varshavsky was quoting a Sotheby's listing from: Professor A. Z. Freeman and the Phyllis Sharpe Memorial collections sale by Sotheby’s in April 1997 as №11 on pp. 12-13.

was The tsuba even had hakobaki papers from Sasano.

Varshavsky even suggests that these vertical bars with rounded ends could represent "scholar's scrolls", as described by Merilly Baird.

That seems more plausible to me than mist, but then again, is it OK to cast doubt on something Sasano wrote about a particular tsuba's motif?  :dunno:

 

I'll edit the summary to include this alternate view from Varshavsky.:thumbsup:

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Piers,

Originals from Sasano's hakobaki note were not provided... so besides a possible "misstep" by Sasano, it's also possible that there was an error made by Sotheby's after they translated and interpreted Sasano's words. 

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