Tachikanagushi

Another early soft metal tsuba with botan motif, with a comparatively subdued execution in kusarakashi .

7.35 cm H x 0.95 cm T mimi, 0.22 cm T seppa dai
The other side, with inome sukashi

This tsuba is published in several places, but most are not in color.

Traces of red lacquer are visible in several spots around the guard.

In b&w photos it looks like there could be a raised edge around this opening, but in a closer look it appears to be lacquer and maybe a bit of pitch rather than part of the plate. Perhaps it was plugged at some point.

Some of the original decoration of the rim is visible here.

And here.

The similar example from the Kurokawa institute collection below appears to have the rim decoration entirely intact:

This guard formerly in the Lundgren collection shows another variation.

This one also appears to have irregular raised borders around the hitsuana. A monochrome view of the same guard here from Dr. Torigoye’s Toso Soran:

Also a different name describing the motif.

Another variation, also with what may be raised borders around the ana.

The inner wall of the rim appears to have a bit of a bevel to it, but otherwise quite similar to all of the above. One ana is filled and the other enlarged a bit into the seppa dai.

Lastly the one we started off with in black and white, also from the Kenzan Taikan.

There are many other variations on mokko gata tachi tsuba with inome sukashi, quite a few of which still have o-seppa associated with them, others have lost them but the decoration of the plate follows an outline that makes it clear that they were originally present. I don’t see any wear pattern or design of the decoration that suggests that they were ever present on the above guards.

These were all the examples of this style of construction with very thick rim and “pipe collars” around the inome sukashi style that I found in my library. It’s interesting that if they are tachi guards that were later modified for uchigatana use they all received the same style of hitsuana.

Interesting inlay

Another tsuba from the Chicago show is one that I’ve admired from my earliest collecting days. It appears in the second Haynes auction catalog from 1982 (about ten years before my time, with tsuba anyway).

8.42 cm H x 0.38 cm T Botan motif, shinchu suemon zogan

Lot 2, from the catalog: “Very rare and important Onin example”

“Iron rounded aori shape with raised carved rim, to resemble a rim cover, with good iron bones in the edge. The plate is inlaid on both sides with four peony branches of cast and carved brass, the edges secured by working the iron plate over the cast flange. The brass is the classical very rich color of the Onin period, circa 1450. The inlay is intact on both sides, but some of the flanges have pulled away from the plate. Ht. 8.4 cm., Th. 3 mm. (Note: it is rare and fortunate that riohitsu were never added at a later date.) (Est. price 500-750)

Ex. Jack Paras sale, lot 2, May 26, 1981″

Here’s a closer look at the inlay. The exposed flanges are particularly visible on the far right leaf and the bottom middle one.

I’ll have to make a closer inspection of other Onin guards to see if that is present but just not as obvious. There are some other places where the inlay is slightly lifted as Bob mentions, but here it appears tight to the plate and was probably never covered. The rest of the surrounding iron does show signs of being moved over the brass. Obviously enough was done to hold the inlay in place.

There are similar guards published, but not with enough detail visible to say for sure, but I don’t see that here.

Shishi Botan from Hyaku Tan
Shishi Botan on copper alloy ground. Source unrecorded

Many thanks to S for sending it my way after keeping it carefully for all these years.