This tsuba is a flat iron plate with quatrefoil design. It has three holes: one for blade (middle) flanked by oval-shape hole (for kougai) and oval with bump shape (for kozuka). Egrets and reeds decorate the surface, distributed in a curve that climbs counter-clockwise from the bottom left register, culmiating in the top left with a lone egret in flight. Egrets on the bottom of the piece perch on the ground or nest in the golden reeds.
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. A smaller hole on the left is to place an ornamental stick, kozuka. Another hole on the right is to insert kougai, spatula-like sticks which are said to be used for itching hair underneath hats or helmets.
51.44 cm x 39.05 cm x 1.27 cm (20 1/4 in. x 15 3/8 in. x 1/2 in.)
Japanese style woodblock print of a samurai standing with his back facing the viewer. The woodblock print has been colored during the printing process. The samurai figure takes up the majority of the image, with printed Japanese in the upper and lower right corners of the print.
This image portrays Ichikawa Ichizô III. He was a promising 19th century tachiyaku actor. Quite tall, Ichikawa Ichizô III was able to perform a wide range of roles, not only as a tachiyaku, but also as a katakiyaku or an onnagata. His field of excellence was jitsugoto. He died at a young age, during his early 30s, and would have taken the name of Ichikawa Ebijûrô, to honor the memory of his grandfather, had he lived.This print is part of a set of five.
The armor is comprised of a round helmet with a neck protector and a crescent-moon shaped ornament; a mask with fake mustache; an upper-body protector with sleeves from waist down and paulownia crest in the middle; a thigh cover; two metal leg protectors; two arm and hand protectors. The suit is stored in a black lacquered box with the gold crest.
The helmet is made of red-painted metal lined with indigo-died cotton fabric and deer skin leather trim, which is attached to the metal helmet. The cotton is quilted with indigo-dyed cotton threads. There are two loops on side and one loop in the back, to hold a code for tying below the wearer’s chin. The code is indigo-dyed and then plaited; there are some fading areas. On the outside of helmet, the paulownia crest is on side flaps (to protect ears). There is a hole in the middle of the helmet for a head ornament. The metal leaves are interlaced with cotton strings. Ceremonial knots of yellow code on the back. It weights about 10 pounds.
The helmet ornament is in crescent moon shape and made of lacquered wood in gold color. There is a slot on the back to place the ornament in the helmet. The slot is nailed to the wood; it looks like a later creation.
The mask covers below the wearer’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth, and down to front neck. The upper part is made of metal; the neck is in metal pieces and cotton codes. The mustache is made of animal hair. The mouth has fake teeth painted with gold.
The arm and hand protectors are made of red-painted metal shell and silk fabric with small flower motifs lined with deerskin and indigo-dyed cotton fabric. The shell is consisted of small metal panels connected with chains. The hand protectors have three different crests. The protectors are tied with indigo dyed cotton codes on back.
The leg protectors are also made of red-painted metal with silk fabric lining. On the metal surface of each piece, there are the artist’s signature and seal.
The body is consisted of metal panels, lacquered with gold in design of peonies and vines. The family crest appears in the middle. Metal knots are in chrysanthemum design. Inside is lined with leather printed with lions and peonies. The shoulder pads are made of cotton quilt in tortoise shell design.
The apron for thighs is made of silk fabric quilt and metal panels. The metal panels protect thighs. The apron belt is made of cotton kasuri; the back is lined with indigo dyed cotton.
The thick belt for the body is made of padded silk fabric.
Elaborate suit of armors were produced since the mid-Heian period (794 - 1185) throughout the Edo period (1615 - 1868) in Japan. Battle field was a place to show one's wealth and lineage, as well as heroism; armors thus embodied sophisticated taste and high craftsmanship. Often times flamboyance was emphasized more than practicality. The large crescent-moon ornament on the helmet here is a good example. The family crests such as this paulownia crest are often decorated on the armor since they indicate the lineage of the samurai. The household of this armor's original owner may have been a retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a military ruler of Momoyama period (1583-1615).
This small, flat metal piece has a quartrefoil shape. Three holes in the middle. Some chips can be seen around the center hole, which mended with silver and copper. A samurai on horseback is charging into the sea from steep hill; he is wearing a helmet, armor, and sword, and holding a fan. A pine tree is standing on the samurai’s right side; there are rocks and bamboo grass by the ocean. The motifs of the ocean, pine tree, bamboo grass and rocks also appear on the reverse side. Gold and some silver and copper inlays are applied on pine branches, samurai's helmet, horse's mane and bridle, bamboo grass on the shore, and spray from waves.
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. A smaller hole on the left is to place an ornamental stick, kozuka. Another hole on the right is to insert kougai, spatula-like sticks which are said to be used for itching hair underneath hats or helmets. The samurai, charging into the sea, is unidentified. Possibly Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159 - 1189), who was said to have uncompared braveness and mythical power.
The sword is long and slightly curved; the metal smith's name is engraved on the metal handle.
Long swords (tachi) were the most important belongings for samurai, almost as equal to their lives; as many tragic stories attest, samurai could commit suicide when his sword was taken, stolen, or lost.