Yoshiro mon-sukashi tsuba. Momoyama period. Well-forged iron plate of round shape (maru-gata) is decorated with water weeds or arabesque (karakusa) in flat brass inlay (hira-zōgan) and eight family crests (mon) of round form in cast brass with delicate linear carving (kebori) and openwork (sukashi). Crests represent: [at 9 hours] three counter-clockwise commas or swirls (tomoe); [at 10:30] plum blossom (ume); [at 12:00, 1:130, and 7:30] – stylized flower made by cutting out five suhama symblos (flower-shaped suhama); [at 3:00] bellflower (kikyō); [at 4:30] seven-star crest (shichiyō-mon); [at 6:00] cherry blossom (sakura). Brass-trimmed ryo-hitsu.
Inscription: 八幡 – Hachiman.
Size: height 89.6 mm, width 89.3 mm, thickness at seppa-dai 3,0 mm. Weight 129.7 g.
As for the inscription, Nihonto Message Board blog discussion provides the following explanation of the inscription: “An expression of conviction as to being the best under the sun”. On the other hand, there may be more in this confluence of symbols: the tomoe crest at 9:00 is “the kamon of Hachiman, the war god” [Family Crests of Japan; Stone Bridge Press, Berkeley, CA, 2007, p. 108]. The character 八 in the inscription cut stronger than the other kanji, and may be by a different hand in different time. 八 (hachi, eight): “The numeral eight was appreciated because its shape broadens toward the bottom, symbolizing eternal expansion” [ibid, p. 119]. It may be said that this tsuba is dedicated to Hachiman. Other crests (suhama, bellflower, seven-stars, plum and cherry blossoms) collectively allude to “good old times” when Fijiwara and Taira clans were in full bloom.
Van Ham auction house provides the following description: MON-SUKASHI TSUBA. MARUGATA. Japan. Momoyama period. Yoshiro school. Iron with inlays of brass. In hira-zogan technique with kebori engraving eight different family emblems (mon). An old inscription is dedicated to the deity Hachiman. D.4.5mm, Ø 8.3cm. Condition A/B. Supplement: Wooden box and NBTHK certificate.