A Sino-Tibetan style Nanban tsuba
Over centuries, many sailors, merchants and colonial dignitaries crossed the oceans to trade with Asian countries. The cross-cultural influence is an interesting part of this period of war and trade. The word ‘Nanban’ or also spelled ‘Namban’ can be literary translated as: ‘Western Barbarian’, a term the Japanese locally used when they spoke of traders from Europe and other continents. The tsuba (sword guards) are a typical fitting of the Japanese sword. Since the trade began, an influence of different cultures and religion were mangled with the Japanese examples. Besides manufacturing in their own country, sword guards were often made in Tonkin, Canton and even in Beijing and Sri-lanka.
Japan, Assumably Nagasaki – Edo period, late 18th century
Materials: Iron, Copper, Gold
This fine sword guard features typical Chinese design, but the ‘kozuka hitsu-ana‘ and manner of gilding tell us that this example was made in Japan, for Japanese use or as gift for European traders.
The tsuba is decorated with a blossom on the top. The sides are decorated with crawling dragons ending up with the flower, instead of the usual ‘flaming pearl‘. The openwork on this tsuba is of great detail. Some curls are crosshatched and gilded, all in typical Canton style which was a very popular style in 17th and 18th century China. Nonetheless likely made in the workshops of Nagasaki, Japan.
The rim of this tsuba has a ribbed structure with 70% of the gilding is still remained untouched.
Condition: Good condition, due to its age slight traces of rust on the inner parts, but not active. The gold damascening is still in very good condition and shows very slight traces of use. Small trace of former oxidation which has been cleaned and treated.
Outlines: 7.1 x 6.7cm
– Antiques by the Sea archive: Christian Orb Nanban Tsuba
Copyright Antiques by the Sea – 2020
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