Onin Tsuba with iris and snowflake in ko-sukashi (small cut-outs). Cut-outs outlined in brass. Three concentric rings of ten-zogan brass dots, with a solid wire line on the inside of them.
Iron and brass. Ko-sukashi and ten-zōgan technique. Mid Muromachi period (1454-1513).
Height: 74.0 mm, Width: 73.6 mm, Thickness: 3.0 mm.
While representation of the snowflake is rather standard, the meaning of the other cut-out design was initially less clear. Similar symbol was found at (1) “Kokusai Tosogu Kai, International Convention & Exhibition, September 24-25, 2005, The Frazier Historical Arms Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, USA”; on page 21 there is a photograph J-6 of a ko-tosho tsuba with “iris theme openwork”; (2) Japanese Swords and Tsuba from the Professor A. Z. Freeman and the Phyllis Sharpe Memorial collections. Sotheby’s, London, Thursday 10 April 1997; page 11, lot 6 – a ko-katchushi tsuba of early Muromachi period fith “simple design of stylized iris”. In both sources the symbol is explained as ‘iris” (kakitsubata).