**Originally Listed At $600**
East Asia, Japan, late Edo Period, ca. early to mid-19th century CE, signed (likely Yukimitsu - see more below). A beautiful forged-iron Kaku Gata tsuba, a square-shaped hand guard with rounded corners traditionally employed on Japanese swords. The obverse side of the tsuba displays a nocturnal scene with a pair of bamboo stalks growing upwards towards a cloud-shrouded crescent moon, and the reverse depicts a trio of minimalist birds in flight above uneven terrain, all in inlaid gold. The exterior rim displays a wispy pattern of curvilinear motifs, and the edge is lined with gold as well. The central blade opening (Nakago-ana) is flanked by a pair of decorative holes, one filled and with a small protrusion on one side (Kogai Hitsu-ana) and an open one without a protrusion (Hozuka Hitsu-ana). Though the old-style characters are somewhat difficult to translate, a small rectangular panel near the central opening bears a signature that likely reads "Yukimitsu". Size: 2.375" W x 2.7" H (6 cm x 6.9 cm).
A tsuba is the hand guard of a traditional Japanese sword, usually a katana or tachi. Its primary purposes are to balance the sword, prevent one's hand from sliding down the blade and, as a last resort, as a block against an opponent's thrust or slash. However, as time and skills developed, the tsuba evolved into an artistic item and symbol representing wealth, prestige, or skills as a swordsman. Early tsuba, known as neri tsuba, were made of leather encased in an iron or wooden frame which was occasionally lacquered for strength and stability.
Provenance: ex-private Rochester, Michigan, USA collection
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