The design is a jinkai 陣貝 shell and pine needles. There is a 3rd element with the pine needles that may be either a pine cone or a snow flake.
In war, the shell (jinkai) or ‘war shell’ was one of several signal devices used by samurai. A large conch would be used and fitted with a bronze (or wooden) mouthpiece. It would be held in an openwork basket and blown with a different combination of “notes” to signal troops to attack, withdraw, or change strategies, in the same way a bugle or flugelhorn was used in the west. The trumpeter was called a kai yaku (貝役).
The dimmensions are 6.7cm x 6.7cm x 0.2 cm.
The sukashi in this piece are original to the guard I believe and are very fine. The hammer marks intrude into the sukashi walls making me believe that they could not have been added later. Many later tsuba with thread-like sukashi were cut with relatively wide lines and then closed by hammering to a narrow gap at the surface.
This tsuba was published in the KOKUSAI TOSOGU KAI 2008 International Convention & Exhibition.
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