To make a sword ready for use, various trappings become necessary, such as the sheath to cover the blade and the hilt to hold it. Together these trappings are referred to as koshirae. Naturally, craftsmen related to outfitting the sword with necessary accessories gathered in areas where fine swords were being manufactured. Kyoto, the home of many swordsmiths producing numerous famed swords since the Heian period, was no exception. The countless master craftsmen of sword trappings who emerged inherited their knowhow from metal workers fashioning decorative fittings for Shinto Shrines and Buddhist temples.
The Kyoto artisan Ichinomiya Nagatsune (1721–86) rivaled Yokoya Sōmin (1670–1733) of Edo. Nagatsune, who studied painting with Ishida Yūtei (1721–1786), the teacher of Maruyama Ōkyo (1733–1795), possessed superlative skill, not just in carving metal, but also in the composition of preliminary sketches and in illustrative genius. One could say he personified the atmosphere of flowery wit of the capital. With experience working as a professional painter, Nagatsune has left us a notebook of sketches he used for his metal work: Natsuō taikan hokō Ichinomiya Nagatsune horimono gachō (Supplement to the Natsuō Encyclopedia: Sketches for Sculpting by Ichinomiya Nagatsune; Tokyo National Museum), which includes the designs for these hilt collars and pummel caps. With brilliant skill his chisel work flows smoothly and unerringly, his cuts accurately recreating the sketches using his favored technique of vertical and angled incisions on a base alloy of copper and silver in the proportion of 4 to 1 respectively.