AN HIGO TSUBA
A NARA 南蛮 SCHOOL TSUBA
A MITO KINKO TSUBA 水戸金工
w 67mm x h 72mm
This tetsujigane migakiji marugata 丸形 tsuba is a Mito tsuba with a shi-shi (lion-dog) in a flowered glade. Done in various colours of gold, and shakudo. It also has takabori (high relief carving) of the surroundings. Copper sekigane.
These are a pair of Shishi. Shishi is translated as lion but can mean a magical dog or deer that can repel evil spirits. Usually found in pairs guarding Shinto or Buddhist shrines, one opened mouthed to scare demons and one close mouthed to keep and house good spirits. A legend holds that the open mouth represents 'Ah' and the closed mouth 'Un', the first and last letters in the Sanskrit syllabary. Similar to the alpha and omega, signifying impermanence. The one with the horn and closed mouth is a lion dog and the open mouthed one is a lion.
Here is a mokkugata 木瓜形 tsuba, mumei, but of the Mito school. It has remnants of a green lacquer evident and is a nice combination of various metalwork. The theme of this tsuba may be two of the heroes of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sangokushi). The bearded warrior with reference to the halberd (naginata) may be Kan'u Uncho (Guan Yu). Guan Yu (關羽) is the god of war and martial arts in the Daoist pantheon. Deified and based on a true life general of warlord Liu Bei during the Three Kingdoms Period of China. The kingdoms being Cao Wei (曹魏), Shu Han (蜀漢), and Dong Wu (東吳). 220 to 280 CE.
AIZU SHOAMI 会津正阿弥
w 79mm x h 85mm
This tetsujigane nagegakugata tsuba with takanikubori carving shows similar workmanship to the Mito Kinko tsuba with shi-shi above. There was much back and forth movement of metal workers between Mito and Aizu and their work showed these similarities, in fact I believe this may be the work of the same smith or at least a contemporary from the same school.