Iron tsuba with design of go-san no kiri, or paulownia leaves, while the rim has a design of paulownia blossoms. Beautiful silky surface with nice sukashi work. Mumei. Late Edo period.
It has been suggested that this tsuba is by the Higo Nishigaki school, however it was sold to me as Akasaka.
Robert Haynes has attributed this tsuba to Akasaka school. He said that the squareness of the sukashi edges and the limited amount of rust on the inside of the sukashi and nakago-ana date it to the late 1800’s. He also said that it is a very nice example of this school and is not Higo.
Paulownia, or kiri (桐) as it is known in Japan, is a light fine-grained wood. It was once customary to plant a Paulownia tree when a baby girl was born, and then to make it into a dresser as a wedding present when she married. Paulownia is the mon of the office of Prime Minister of Japan and also serves as the emblem of the cabinet and the Government. It was a popular wood for the production of chests, boxes, and clogs (geta). It has a low silica content which helps reduce moisture, making it ideal for the production of boxes for swords and fittings that require a dry environment.
Paulownia is represented with either five and seven blossoms (go-shichi no kiri) or five and three blossoms (go-san no kiri). The former is used by the Imperial Family, while the latter is generally used by other families of Japan. This particular example is an informal go-san no kiri design.
A similar design can be found on page 167 of Eckhard Kremers’ book “Sukashi Tsuba”. This particular tsuba is attributed to Nishigaki.
Thickness at seppa dai 0.5cm
Thickness at mimi 0.5cm