Higo Tsuba Sword Guard

Tachibana Museum

Higo Kinko
“Higo Kinko” is the collective name for the metal pieces that decorated swords and sword guards. These were made in Kumamoto, in Higo province, and were highly esteemed in the Edo period. Hosokawa Sansai (1563~1645), who was an excellent military commander, and a master of the tea ceremony, made a contribution to the development of Higo Kinko through encouragement and guidance. The characteristic of the metal work is practicality and stateliness; two qualities that have also had a lasting influence on the aesthetic sense in tea ceremonies. The four major schools of Higo Kinko consist of the Hayashi Matashichi School, the Hirata Hikozo School, the Nishigaki Kanshiro School, and the Shimizu Jinbei School. If you include the Kamiyoshi School, which was the successor to the Hayashi School, it makes five schools in total.
Higo Tsuba Sword Guard
The guard of a sword is called a “Tsuba” in Japanese. It is usually a flat iron plate that separates the hilt of the sword from the blade, and protects the hand of the sword wielder. It is an essential feature of a sword. Yet, each sword owner’s taste is reflected in the decorative patterns and designs that embellish these guards. The Higo-tsuba was designed with much consideration for “Higo-koshirae”, which was Hosokawa Sansai’s favorite style.

Sword Guard with paulownia and double-strode crests open work
HAYASHI Matashichi First,
the early Edo period (the 17th century),
IDETA Collection
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art

Sword Guard with paulownia and double-strode crests open work (back side)
HAYASHI Matashichi First,
the early Edo period (the 17th century),
IDETA Collection
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art

Sword guard with the design of plum tree open work
Hayashi Shigemitsu, the 2nd,
the early Edo period (the17th~18th century),
Collection of Kumamoto prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword guard with the design of plum tree open work (back side)
Hayashi Shigemitsu the 2nd
the early Edo period (the17th~18th century)
Kumamoto prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword Guard with the design of Amaryu Rain Dragon open work
Kamiyoshi Fukanobu the 2nd
the late Edo period (the19th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The HIRATSUKA collection)

Sword Guard with the design of Amaryu Rain Dragon open work (back side)
Kamiyoshi Fukanobu the 2nd
the late Edo period (the19th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The HIRATSUKA collection)

Sword Guard with design of Dead Trees
Kamiyoshi Rakujyu the 3rd
the late Edo period (the19th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword Guard with design of Dead Trees (back side)
Kamiyoshi Rakujyu the 3rd
the late Edo period (the19th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword Guard with design of Dried Trepangs
Kamiyoshi Rakujyu the 3rd
the late Edo period (the19th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword Guard with design of Dried Trepangs (back side)
Kamiyoshi Rakujyu the 3rd
the late Edo period (the19th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword Guard with a Crane over the Waves Open Work
Tani Seibei
the late Edo period (the19th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword Guard with a Crane over the Waves Open Work (back side)
Tani Seibei
the late Edo period (the19th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword Guard with design of Three Comma Shaped Figures in a Circle Open Work
attributed to Nishigaki Kanshiro First
the early Edo period (the 17th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art

Sword Guard with design of Three Comma Shaped Figures in a Circle Open Work(back side)
attributed to Nishigaki Kanshiro First
the early Edo period (the 17th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art

Sword Guard with design of Millet
attributed to Nishigaki Kanshiro 2nd
Edo period (the17th-18th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword Guard with design of Millet (back side)
attributed to Nishigaki Kanshiro 2nd
Edo period (the17th-18th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword Guard with design of Waves in Mokko (Chaenomeles) Shape
Nishigaki Kanshiro 3rd
Edo period (the18th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword Guard with design of Waves in Mokko (Chaenomeles) Shape (back side)
Nishigaki Kanshiro 3rd
Edo period (the18th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (The Ideta collection)

Sword Guard with Bank Shaped Edge
attributed to Shimizu Jingo 3rd
Edo period (the18th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art(The ideta Collecton)

Sword Guard with Bank Shaped Edge (back side)
attributed to Shimizu Jingo 3rd
Edo period (the18th century)
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art(The ideta Collecton)

Sword Guard with Butterflies Open Work
Yonemitsu Tahei
1974
Kumamoto prefectural Museum of Art

Sword Guard with Butterflies Open Work (back side)
Yonemitsu Tahei
1974
Kumamoto prefectural Museum of Art

By : Tachibana Museum
Credits: Story

Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art

Tachibana Foundation
TACHIBANA MUSEUM


Curated by
SAITO Azusa (Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art)
UENO Kaori (TACHIBANA MUSEUM)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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