AN ASIAN EXPORT OR “NAMBAN” STYLE JAPANESE SWORD GUARD, TSUBA
PROBABLY 18TH CENTURY
The solid iron plate of nearly round shape and convex surface. Both the front (omote) and the back (ura) are framed with a decorative overlaid band of damascened silver applied to a crosshatched, chisel-roughened ground. This decoration consists of rune-like characters, which may be or aspire to be actual language (possibly Korean) or may simply be pseudo-characters, made to look like language. The tsuba is pierced with two holes, or hitsu-ana, which have been plugged in shakudo alloy. The front of the tsuba features chiseled symmetrical decoration of dragon-like beasts framing a sacred pearl or orb. The back features a decorative cloud pattern, and the edge of the plate shows traces of gold damascening.
74 mm. by 70 mm.