An inlaid ana

Satome Kiku guard with an unusual modification

We’re used to seeing inlaid spokes on Sotome tsuba. Even more often we see kozuka ana cut into tsuba that did not originally have them. Occasionally when a new ana is cut into something like a nanban-style tsuba the rough opening will be finished off with a “inside” fukurin. In this case a craftsman not only cut the three spokes to make an opening, he created a new “ana” and dovetailed it into the seppa dai at top and bottom. The middle spoke uses the usual inlay method seen on Saotome kiku guards. The whole tsuba below:

7.37 cm H x 0.46 T

It’s an otherwise unexceptional example of the type. Since it has a “built in” kogai ana it seems likely that it originally had a similar kozuka ana. Either way someone chose to modify it rather than get a new one. Was the owner on a particularly tight budget or was there a personal attachment to the guard that meant that it could not replaced. Or, did it start off as an “off the rack” guard that didn’t quite fit what the buyer needed, but he was in a hurry and was promised that the alterations would be ready in the morning? After all, they knew how to inlay iron bits. As usual, unknown.

1 thought on “An inlaid ana”

  1. Jim,

    These are most interesting works. I have one in my collection for which each radial spindle of the tsuba is inlaid or notched into the seppa-dai and the ryo-hitsuana are also constructed of iron, as well as silver and either shinchu or low karat gold as pillows for kogai and kozuka. I believe it mid to late Muromachi and is 80mm x 79mm x 3mm. There is a good deal of old kuro-urushi on the guard so it is difficult to see clearly but the rim / mimi may be made up of three individual concentric rings but this is obscured by the lacquer. I would have thought this to be Saotome but the previous owner is a knowledgeable collector in Japan who termed it tachikanagushi as he thought it was part of an issaku-goshirae. I would be happy to provide you with photos of the work to add to this already fascinating subject.

    Kind Regards,


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