Sword Guard (Tsuba)

Fittings maker: Inscribed by Ishiguro Masayoshi (Japanese, 1772–after 1851)

Date: 19th century

Culture: Japanese

Medium: Copper-gold alloy (shakudō), gold, copper-silver alloy (shibuichi), copper

Dimensions: H. 2 7/8 in. (7.3 cm); W. 2 5/8 in. (6.7 cm); thickness 5/16 in. (0.8 cm); Wt. 5.4 oz. (153.1 g)

Classification: Sword Furniture-Tsuba

Credit Line: The Howard Mansfield Collection, Gift of Howard Mansfield, 1936

Accession Number: 36.120.79


Tsuba were originally utilitarian fittings, made to protect the hand from the cuts of an opponent's sword. From the sixteenth century onward, however, more decorative tsuba became the specialty of some craftsmen. By the nineteenth century, when this tsuba was made, there were many well-defined schools and styles of tsuba making. Tsuba were interchangeable and were often made as part of sets of matching sword fittings, which could be mounted with blades of various types and dates.