It is a round, openwork tsuba, in the design of three interconnected bamboo leaves. It has the signature: Kishû jû, Sadanobu.
Tsuba (sword guard) is inserted between a sword handle and blade to protect hands from sharp blades. The center hole is where the sword is placed. The smaller hole is to insert an ornamental stick called kozuka.
This small, flat metal piece has a circular shape and an openwork design. It has a triangular shaped sword hole in the center, flanked by two other holes, which are filled with shakudô (copper-gold alloy). The sword hole is mended with gold. Three crests, consisting of pawlownia leaves and flowers, are interconnected with vines. There are some abrasions on the center oval shape around the sword hole. The surface is slightly textured by minute stippling. The outer rim is slightly elevated from the inner design. This openwork carving technique is called "marubori" (round carving).
Tsuba (sword guard) is inserted between a sword handle and blade to protect hands from sharp blades. The center hole is where the sword is placed. The smaller holes are to insert kozuka (left), an ornamental stick, and kougai (right), a spatula-like stick which is said to be used for itching hair underneath hats or helmets. This particlar tsuba has three crests of "Gosangiri" (pawlownia with three-five-three flower petals), which perhaps was the family crest of the owner of the original sword.
The Buddha in bhumisparsa mudra (the gesture of touching the earth with his right hand, palm inward), signaling his victory over Mara. He is shown under three leaves, indicating the bodhi tree under which he sat while meditating before reaching an awakening. He is shown flanked by two stupas, or reliquary monuments, symbolizing his attainment of nirvana.
The founder of Buddhism is known as Shakyamuni, the “sage (muni) of the Shakya clan.” He is shown here in the gesture of bhumisparsha mudra, or “calling the earth to witness.” The pose is based on a moment in his life when, as he sat down to meditate in a grove at Bodh Gaya, he was challenged by the evil Mara, who questioned his qualifications to earn enlightenment. Shakyamuni reached down with his right hand to touch the Earth, the sole witness of the countless past lives through which he had accumulated merit.
The two small objects to either side of the Buddha are stupas, reliquaries that house his physical remains and symbolize his nirvana, or release from the bonds of transmigration. This small image may have been carved in Bodh Gaya as a souvenir for pilgrims to the site.
Circular tsuba, made of iron. Inside an exterior circle, eight smaller circles are placed with the same spacing. The eight circles are connected to the exterior circle as well as to the three center holes where kôgai, blade, and kozuka are placed. Each of the eight circles have a different family crests. The openwork technique seen here is called "marubori" (round carving). The surface is slightly textured by minute stippling.
Family crests were important markers of the samurai class, in which military and political connections and blood and marriage relationships heavily weighed and determined one’s social status. This tsuba with eight different family crests alludes that the owner has some kind of relationship to eight different households or lineages; either of his own household (One household used more than one crest, although usually there was one dominant than other crests), his relatives or his allies.