Traditional Japanese Art for a Bright Future "Signs of Good Fortune" from the collection of Susan Tosk

Nov 12, 2020 - Dec 30, 2020

Unsigned (Signs of Good Fortune)

"Tsuba" for a tanto (short sword)

2.3 in

About the work

At a length of 2.3 inches, this tsuba was made for a tanto (short sword) and crafted of deep shakudo ( the rare bronze alloy of gold and copper that patinates to a rich, blue-black tone).  All sides of the tsuba exhibit the fantastic technique of nanako ("fish roe") appearance, achieved with a minute granulation effect.


The front shows an elegant depiction of a  snow-capped Mount Fuji, symbol of good fortune and well-being.  The "snow" is formed of silver takazogan (relief inlay) with fine engraving.  Below is a young pine bough, consisting of three sprigs with gold-inlaid growing tips, the artist taking care to reveal the growing root as well: conveying a sense of vibrant youth, strength, and virility.  The root is inlaid in silver.


The reverse shows a brilliant rising sun in gold hirazogan (flush design inlay), and gold inlay is used again for the bud and blossom of the ginger plant below. Significantly, the three stylized leaves of the wild ginger plant formed the mon of the Tokugawa clan.  The artist has signed the tsuba on the seppadai "Seiryusai Hidenaga" with a kakihan (calligraphic flourish).    Late 18th century (mid-Edo period). 


Another shakudo nanako tsuba signed "Hidenaga" is in the collection of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a shakudo nanako tsuba signed "Seiryusai" is in the London Victoria and Albert Museum.

About the artist

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