A Kagami-shi tsuba 鏡帥 that would date from around the mid Muromachi 室町時代中期 jidai. Richly patinated Karakane (bronze 唐金 or Toukin) construction that is cast and whose name suggests that they are the work of mirror makers, but the work is usually rather different from what is seen on mirrors (kagami 鏡). The mimi is Dote Mimi 土手耳. Dote refers to an embankment or raised rim. There is Ryohitsu Shitate (両櫃仕立) meaning the tsuba has two hitsu ana. One is plugged with what may be shakudo, and the outer edge is finished with a Yamagane (山 銅 copper) wedge, that appears to try and encorporate the design. It is nicely finished no matter how it is seen. This is a small sized tsuba probably for an Uchi-katana 打刀. There are remnants of lacquer or Kuro (black) Urushi 黒うるし in many places. There is also a Shu-mei attribution (red lacquer signature 銘 朱漆) or a marker perhaps on the left side of the seppa dai on the front of the tsuba. It is unknown what this reads. It may have been an owners name, a storage area indicator or any number of things.
The dating of these pieces ranges from the Kamakura to Muromachi periods. Kagami-shi tsuba are seen with regular geometric designs and with more organic motifs. While this tsuba looks like yamagane, is in fact bronze, with a low concentration of tin and lead. This has been ascertained by compositional analysis utilizing scanning electron microscopy.
The design features interlocking rings likely representing the kamon of the Hatakeyama clan (畠山氏, Hatakeyama-shi) Originally a branch of the Taira clan, and descended from Taira no Takamochi, after 1205 the Hatakeyama came to be descendants of the Ashikaga clan, who were in turn descended from Emperor Seiwa (850-880) and the Seiwa Genji branch of the Minamoto clan. These kamon are combined with Take (竹) or bamboo leaves. The reverse side also displays floral ornamentation, also most likely bamboo. Two hitsu-ana were added later, with one being plugged with a combination of copper and lead. An attempt was made to extend the design elements on the plate into the copper plug which is a nice tough. Black lacquer remnants remain around the mimi and in the ornamentation lows.
This piece is an excellent example of a Kagami-shi tsuba and is comparable to any of the tsuba in Sasano’s book “Kagamishi Tsuba”.
The dimensions are 6.9cm H x 6.9cm W x 0.2cm at seppadai to 0.45cm at mimi.
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