Myochin Bonji

Sanskrit character sukashi in a large iron tsuba.

8.98 cm H x 0.50 cm T mimi, 0.26 cm seppa dai

The rim is carved from the plate rather than raised or attached. This is late Edo period work, but quite well done. It keeps some of the spirit of early katchushi tsuba, but takes it to an entirely more elaborate end. Nice that hitsuana were not included.

At first glance it looks quite abstract, but it’s not hard to figure out. The bonji at top and bottom are turned ninety degrees. Looking up the particulars of the Buddhist deities named is as they used to say, left as an exercise for the student.


7.17 cm H x 0.49 cm T

After thinking about tsuba finishing from the previous post, I’m adding this tsuba as an example of reaching for the limits of thinness in iron sukashi. The maker is listed in Haynes at H 07513:

NTS: G. Heckmann: TSUBA, 1995, T 39, oval
iron plate carved in the round with Michikaze
with large umbrella by a willow tree and a
frog on the ground, with gold and silver
inlay. Somewhat in the Kyoto style and
with Soten overtones, signed: Nobunori.
SCE. G. Heckmann, 1995

That tsuba from Heckmann is here:

It’s clearly the same guy although the work is a bit less technically extreme. I haven’t found any other examples illustrated but will keep an eye out. Kyo mixed with Soten is about right, but it clearly is his own style. I don’t imagine these were the creation of an amateur who only made a few guards.

So, a closer look at the details of the first guard.

Not only are the lines extremely thin, their width tapers as well and “all” 5 mm of depth is layered in different levels. I don’t see any filemarks (other than the nunome) under more magnification. Was there an easy way to do this? If it was made separately and inlaid or otherwise attached, I’m not seeing any signs. Amazing.

Update: I had a random thought and checked the fine tendrils with a tiny rare earth magnet to seek out possible non-ferrous shenanigans. None were found.