Glossary for Tsuba

A compilation of glossary's

’Õ - Tsuba Kanji

AIKUCHI
A dagger mounted without a tsuba.
AKATSUCHI
Red clay used in the patination process on iron tsuba.
AMI
Last two characters of an art name meaning 'a man who is talented in the arts'.
AMIDA YASURI
File marks radiating from the center of the tsuba plate that resemble the halo of the Amida (Buddha).
AOI
Design based on the hollyhock plant leaf.
AOI-GATA
Shape of tsuba resembling a leaf of the hollyhock plant.
AOI TSUBA
A style of tsuba in the form of a hollyhock leaf, first in fashion in the Nara age, but used sporadically until late in the Edo age.
AOKIN
A greenish alloy of gold and silver.
AORI-GATA
A tsuba of trapezoid shape (saddle flap shape).
ATO
Chinese term for tsuba on ancient swords.
AWA-ISHIME
Ground design of ring-shaped punch marks used mainly on old Katchushi guards.
AWASEGITAE
The forging of the plate to form either the single or double 'final fold' used by the swordsmith and armorsmith tsuba makers.
BANCHA
Coarse Japanese tea used in the patination process.
BEKKEI
A branch family; usually working independently from the main family line.
BISHAMONTEN
The god of treasures; Vais'ravana.
BONJI
Sanscrit characters often used as design motifs.
CHIDORI
A plover, often used as a design motif.
CHIKABUSHIMA
No drama story, used as a design motif.
CHIRIGAMI ZOGAN
Nunome inlay resembling 'coarse paper' in texture.
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CHIRIMEN
A crape paper finish.
DAEN
Tsuba of ovoid shape.
DAI
Kanji used as a hot stamp design on later Tempo tsuba.
DAIKON
Large radish used to cleanse metal in the coloring process.
DAI-SHI KOKUIN
Grain or veins suggesting a stone surface.
DAI-SHO
Large and small; refers to the pair of swords worn predominately during the Edo age.
DO
Copper.
DORO SHIPPO
Grain or veins suggesting a stone surface.
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DOTE MIMI
A rounded raised rim.
EDO KINKO
Tsuba makers living in the area of the city who made mainly decorative pieces during the later Edo age.
ENSHO
Gun powder used in patination formulas.
FUCHI
Ring or collar at the lower end of the tsuka, or handle.
FUCHI-KASHIRA
The kashira is the cap at the upper end of the tsuka, and may have a design motif like that of the fuchi.
FUKIYOSEZAKURA
Design of 'cherry blossoms gathered by the wind' used mainly by the Tani school of Higo province.
FUKURIN
A rim cover, usually of soft metal used mainly as a decorative addition to the tsuba plate.
FUKU-KISE
Another name for the UTTORI style of inlay.
GAISO
The complete mountings for a blade, including tsuka, saya, and all metal fittings.
GEN
The bonji for GEN refers to GENJI which is the MINAMOTO family.
GE-SHIBUICHI
The inferior grade of SHIBUICHI.
GIN
Silver.
GINSHI
Silversmith.
GOISHI-GATA
Tsuba plate of convex cross section resembling the stone used in the game of GO.
GOKU KOKO
Very hard iron, 1.0% or less of carbon content.
GOKU NANKO
Very soft iron, 0.25% or less of carbon content.
GOMI ZOGAN
'Trash' or 'garbage' inlay.
GOMOKU ZOGAN
'Stew made of five parts', inlay style.
GO-SAN no KIRI MON
A kiri mon with five flower buds in the center and three on each side.
GUNBAI-UCHIWA
War fan of non-folding type.
GURI-BORI
A welding of layers of copper and shakudo which is then carved to give the impression of a carved laquer.
HABAKI
A metal sleeve that fits securely over nakago between base of nakago and polished area of blade. Used to secure blade in mouth of scabbard.
HACHIKAKU-GATA
Tsuba of octagon (8) shape.
HANA
Hot stamp of kanji "hana" (flower) used on the tsuba plate by Saotome and Tempo artisans.
HANAGIRI
Design of kiri flowers and leaves.
HANA ISHIME
Hot stamped surface with flower shaped punches.
HANA-KAZE KOKUIN
Hot stamped design of kanji "hana" and kanji "kaze" (wind) used on Saotome tsuba.
HANARE
Term used by Akiyama to describe the "elegant signature" used by Nobuiye I.
HARI-ISHIME
Surface finish of punch marks.
HEIANJO ZOGAN
A form of brass inlay.
HIASHI YASURI
"Sunbeam" style of file marks.
HIDO
Copper with red patination.
HIGO KOSHIRAE
Style of sword mounting peculiar to the province of Higo.
HIKONE-BORI
The original style of carving of the Soten school. It is a combination of low relief, line carving, some shishiai, detailed iroe inlay and elaborate openwork.
HINERIKAESHI MIMI
An edge with a few (3 to 6) undulations.
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HIRA
The Surface of the Tsuba.
HIRA ZOGAN
Inlay set into the plate, the surface being flush with that of the plate.
HIRUMAKI TACHI
A tachi mounting bound with wide parallel bands of metal or rattan along the full length of the saya.
HITOTSU-BIKI, TATE FUTATSU BIKIRYO
Design of central bar crossed at right angles by two thin parallel bars.
ŸCŒŠ
HITSU-ANA
Hole in the guard to accomodate the Kozuka and Kogai. Looking from the front, the Kozuka hole is on the left side and the Kogai hole is on the right.
HOJU TSUBA
"Jewel shaped" tsuba form used on swords of the Dolmen period.
HOKORI-YOSHIRO
"Dust covered" or "piled with dust" term to define type of inlay used on Yoshiro tsuba where groups of brass and/or copper wire constitute the decoration.
HOO
A mythological bird with feathers of five colors and very long tail plumes.
HORIAGE
Carving of low relief on surface of tsuba plate.
HORI ISHIME
Surface rough carved to give a "stone" textured surface.
HORIKOMI ZOGAN
Carving filled with inlay.
HORISAGE
Bas-relief carving on plate surface.
HOSOZUKASHI
Slender (thin) perforated carving.
HYOGOGUSARI
The saya is bound top and bottom with parallel bands of metal.
HYOTAN
A gourd, often used as a design motif.
IBOTARO
Chinese wax (tree wax) made from natural sources. Lightly dusted on the tsuba surface as a protective coating for iron plate.
IKI-ZUKASHI
An all-encompassing term covering forms of positive sukashi.
INAKAMONO
"Country work" meaning objects made by artists independant of a school and of country origin. Their work is usually unsophisticated.
INOME-BORI SUKASHI
Heart-shaped openings of very early origin, first used in the AOI tsuba.
IN-SUKASHI
Negative silhouette perforations.
IO
Sulphur used in patination of metals.
IPPON CHIKU
A famous design of "one bamboo stalk".
IROGANE KO-TSUBA
Refers to those old multi-colored metal tsuba made in the Muromachi and Momoyama ages.
IROE-ROZUKE
Soldered inlay of soft metals.
IROE ZOGAN
Colours like gold and silver pasted or burned onto the carved metal plates. "Colored picture inlay".
ISHIME-JI
Surface finish resembling the texture of stone made with various sized punches.
ISSHI-SODEN
The one reliable student to whom the master passes his most important secrets.
ITA TSUBA
A flat plate having the same thickness over the entire surface.
ITO FUKURIN
A thin, narrow FUKURIN used mostly on tsuba of GOISHI-GATA shape.
ITO-SUKASHI
A style of negative perforation of thin thread-like lines used mostly by the Ito school and its followers.
JI
The ground or surface of the tsuba plate.
JIDAI-GOTO
Refers to the old Goto work made in the Muromachi age, usually by artists other than the main line Kyoto school.
DO
Copper.
’n‹à (S“S)
JIGANE (Shingane)
The basic metal or base metal of a tsuba.
JI-MON
A pattern of hammer marks on the surface of the tsuba to give variety and interest to the plate surface. Often seen on the work of the first and second Nobuiye.
JINIKU
Refers to the artistic quality of the surface of the plate. May also mean the richness of the ground of the plate.
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JI-SUKASHI
An open work method in which most of the iron of the flat body is removed to create the outline of a shape or shapes.
JO-SHIBUICHI
The best grade and color of SHIBUICHI.
JUJI-MOKKO
Tsuba of cross shape with four lobes of equal length.
JUROJIN
The god of longevity, often used as a design motif.
JUZU
A rosary, also refers to a type of tsuba designed in the shape of a rosary.
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KAGE-SUKASHI
Negative silhouette used in the Ji-Sukashi method.
KAGA ZOGAN
True inlay (HIRA ZOGAN) of sentoku or silver in the earliest works by artisans of Kaga province. Later examples utilized shakudo, shibuichi, or copper ground, in which metals of varying shades (IROE) were used in combination with KEBORI.
KAGAMISHI
A maker of mirrors. The artists who design and cast bronze mirrors and bronze tsuba of mirror form.
KAGOME
A woven pattern of wire, usually brass, such as is used on the KAGOME Shingen tsuba.
KAKIHAN
A written seal or monogram. May also be applied to carved monograms. See KAO.
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KAKUMIMI
A square edge having a flat surface and sharp corners.
KAKUMIMI-KONIKU
A square edge with slightly rounded surface, the most common style of edge shape.
KAKUMIMI-KONIKU-HORISAGE
A rounded square edge with deep channel carvings as a design.
KAKUMOKKO-GATA
A four-lobed shape with square sides.
KAKUSHI TAGANE
Pocket-shaped marks at edges of central opening in tsuba made with a large punch. These marks in some instances identify the work of a school or individual artist, but the majority, of irregular shape and pattern, were added at a later date to make the central opening fit tightly on a particular blade.
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KAMAKURA TSUBA
Thin Katchushi type sword guards dating from the late Muromachi period. The scenic motifs are created by shallow relief carving.
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KAMMIMI
Thicker rounder raised rims. ( note; Thicker and rounder than Dote-mimi )
KANAGU
The metal fittings of the mounting for a sword blade.
KARAKANE
Bronze.
KARAKURI
An inlay affixed to the surface of the plate by means of a pin or peg.
KARAKUSA
A common design motif of arabesque vine stems, leaves, and flowers.
KAREKI ZOGAN
A design of broken, dead twigs, commonly used by the schools of Higo province and their followers.
KASHIRA
The cap or head of the hilt of a sword.
KASUMI CHIDORI
A design of small birds in the mist or haze. One of the design motifs used by the Yagyu school.
KATAKIRI BORI
Carving with lines of varying thickness and depth in imitation of the strokes of a painters brush.
KATASHIROME
An alloy of tin and lead used as the base of the alloy NIGUROME.
KATCHUSHI
An armorsmith. This term is also used for those tsuba made by armorers, or in KATCHUSHI style.
KAWAGANE
"Skin metal", a thin layer of specially prepared iron applied in the final forging process as the outside layer on some tsuba made by such schools as the Akasaka and the Oda.
KAWARIGANE
Soft metal tsuba, or other fittings. All pieces made of metal other than iron.
KAWARI MOKKO
Irregular four-lobed shape, or any variation on the standard mokko form.
KAZE
A kanji meaning "wind" used as a decorative hot stamp on the Saotome tsuba of the HANA-KAZE type.
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KEBORI
Hair-thin line carving of consistent depth and width. A chisel slightly rounded leaves a U-shaped line: maru ke-bori.
KENJO
A presentation or gift tsuba.
KENUKIGATA
A style of tachi mounting with AOI or SHITOGI tsuba, and with a metal handle in most cases.
KERI-BORI (kick carving)
This method uses a chisel with a flattened, thinner tip; a corner is allowed to rise and 'kick up', in contrast to ke-bori lines. The resulting marks are very delicate wedge-shaped triangular dots.
KESHIIRE ZOGAN also KESHIKOME ZOGAN
An amalgam inlay on either iron or soft metal plate such as in KAGA ZOGAN work.
KIKUJIDO
Legend from the No drama used as a design motif.
KIKU-GATA
A tsuba in the shape of a chrysanthemum flower.
KIKUSUI
Design of chrysanthemum flowers floating in a stream.
KIKU SUKASHI
Openwork tsuba in the shape of a chrysanthemum flower.
KIKUTOMOE
Design of TOMOE (comma shape) in chrysanthemum form. Sometimes used by Nobuiye.
KIN
Gold.
KIN-KO
"Gold artist". Means decorative tsuba maker as opposed to TSUBA-KO ("true" tsuba maker).
KIN-SHIPPO
Closonne, or enamel decoration with gold wire dividers between the areas of color.
KIRI
A plant, the leaves and flowers are often used as design motifs.
KIRI MON
A crest of two common types, GO SAN no KIRI MON (three and five bud stalk kiri mon) and SHICHI GO no KIRI MON (five and seven bud stalk kiri mon).
KISAGE
A scraper used to even the surface of the plate after forging.
KISE
Plated silver (gingise) or other plated metals.
KITTATE
Term for the inside walls of the openwork area of Akasaka tsuba; meaning the walls are cut stiff straight as a cliff.
KOBAN-GATA
Shape of SEPPA-DAI resembling the outline shape of an old gold coin. Characteristic of the work of several schools living in Kyoto area.
KOBUSHI-GATA
A tsuba shape resembling a closed hand (fist shaped).
KODOGU
The usual parts of a GAISO. Often used to refer to all metal fittings, except for the tsuba, but in some instances the tsuba may be included.
KOGAI
A hair-arranging implement used by high ranking samurai and officials of court rank. The common form seems to date from the Nara age.
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KOGAI-ANA (HITSU)
Opening in the tsuba, on the front surface the opening is to the right of the central perforation (Nakago-ana).
KO-GOTO
"Old Goto" usually referring to the work of the Goto school in the "classic style" made in the Muromachi and Momoyama ages by Goto workers of the main line and their subsidiary branches.
KOHINERI-MIMI
A type of UCHIKAESHI-MIMI that has a slight twist to the rolled over edge.
KOHONE
Plant design of spatterdock.
KOJIRI
A cap or cover for the bottom of the scabbard, usually made of metal or horn.
KO-KINKO
"Old KINKO", meaning those soft metal workers living in the Muromachi and Momoyama ages.
KO-KINKO KODOGU
Fittings, other than the tsuba, made by the KO-KINKO.
KOKO
Hard iron with 0.5% to 1.0% carbon content.
KOKUIN
A surface design of punch marks impressed onto the plate while the metal was still in a soft, pliable state. Used predominately by the Saotome and Tembo on iron plate and by TACHI-KANAGUSHI on soft metal plate.
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KONIKU-KAKUMIMI
A slightly rounded square rim.
KOSHIRAE
Ready made fittings, sometimes used to denote a mounting with en suite fittings.
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KO-SUKASHI
Small perforations, such as a single flower, or number of perforations of small size.
KOSUKE TAGANE
Wide channel carving often resembling worm eaten wood.
KOZUKA
Literally "small handle", but has come to mean both the blade and the handle of the small utility knife carried in the scabbard of the sword.
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KOZUKA-ANA (HITSU)
The opening to the left of the NAKAGO-ANA on the face of the tsuba.
KUCHI-BENI
Literally "lipstick", but refers to the copper plugs which may be seen at the top and bottom of the NAKAGO-ANA. Their function was to secure the tsuba firmly when mounted on a blade. These plugs are sometimes called SEKIGANE.
KURO-SHIBUICHI
"Black shibuichi", very dark colored SHIBUICHI.
KURUMA SUKASHI
Tsuba in the shape of a carriage wheel.
KUSARI BORI
"Decayed carving", the correct term for this style of surface treatment is YAKITE KUSARASHI.
KYO
Common abbreviated version of Kyoto, used as a prefix for many schools and types of tsuba made in or around the Kyoto area.
MAKI no TACHI
Bound tachi, usually mounted with a SHITOGI TSUBA for ceremonial occasions.
MARUBORI
"Round carving". This term is not used in Japan and seems to be a literal invention of Western authors. The proper term for this style of carving is UBUZUKASHI.
MARU GITAE
Simple forging of sheets of plate metal at opposite angles. This style of folding will produce MOKUME grain on the plate.
MARU KAKUMIMI
Rounded square edge.
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MARUMIMI
A round edge used by such schools as the Akasaka and others.
MARUMIMI KAKUMIMI
Round edge slightly squared.
MARUMIMI KONIKU
Round edge with slightly pointed or protruding surface.
MARUMIMI TOGARIGOKORO
Round edge of pointed heart shapes.
MARUMIMI UCHIKAESHI
Round edge slightly hammered over the plate surface by folding.
MARUSHI TEN-ZOGAN
A design consisting of rows of brass dots arranged in a concentric circular pattern used on Onin tsuba.
–Á
MEI
The tsuba smith's signature carved into the surface of the guard, usually beside the nakago-ana.
MEKKI (TOKIN)
Mercury gilding. Thin layers of gold or silver cover the surface of another kind of metal through the medium of mercury. The gold or silver will peel off with rubbing.
MENAMI
A design of waves with the crests turned downward. This style was used by Nishigaki first and second.
MENUKI
Metal ornaments placed under the wrapping of the TSUKA, or directly on the surface if the hilt is unwrapped.
MEN WO TORU
This means that the edges of the SUKASHI openings have been slightly rounded, as seen in the work of the Hayashi school rather than the sharp edges of the Akasaka school tsuba.
MIDARE GURUMA SUKASHI
Wheel shaped tsuba with irregularly shaped perforations.
MIGAKI-JI
Polished plate surface, either of iron or soft metal.
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MIMI
The rim of the tsuba, includes the flat of the web at the outer border area.
MIMI no HIRA
The thickness, or width, at the edge of the tsuba.
MITSUDOME
Design of three comma shapes, head to tail, forming a circle. A common design and crest motif.
MITSU UROKU
A triangular shape formed by a pyramid of three triangles. "Three fish scales", a crest motif.
MIZUGURUMA
A water wheel, a design common to Daigoro tsuba.
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MOKKO-GATA
Essentially an oval, quadrilobed form of tsuba shape resembling the cross-section of a melon. There are many variations as to the depth of the lobes, their number, etc. Four lobes with indented corners is the most common.
MOKUME JITATE
Surface of a forged plate treated with acid to produce a wood grain surface.
•¶“§
MON-SUKASHI
An openwork method mainly used in Ko-Tosho and Ko-Katchushi sword gaurds. Shapes are pierced in negative silhouette into the flat body of the guard. The image is defined by the removal of the iron from the base. In Yoshiro work the Mon are inlaid openwork brass medallions.
MUKADE
A design of wire inlay that resembles a centipede. Used mostly as decoration on Meiji era export tsuba.
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MURASAKI SABI
The patina of iron that has a grey-purplish colour.
MUSO no TAGANE
"Mystery marks", the secret chisel marks of a master that are intended as identification of his work whether signed, unsigned, or attributed, (particularly in the work of the main line Goto).
NADEKAKU-GATA
Tsuba of rounded square shape or square shape with rounded corners.
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NADAMARU
Oval shapped
•–؉ZŒ^
NADEMOKKO-GATA
Lobed shapped on an oval base
NADESHIKO
Design motif utilizing the flower "pink".
NAGAMARU-GATA
A tsuba plate of oval shape.
NAKAGO
That part of the sword that is inserted into the Tsuka. The tang of the blade.
’†SŒŠ
NAKAGO-ANA
The central opening in the plate of the tsuba that passes over the NAKAGO of the sword.
NAMAZU
The "thunderfish" (catfish).
NAMBAN-JI
The Christian church.
NAMI no TAKABORI
Waves cut in the ground and with undercut areas in the style of Omori Teruhide.
NAMI SHIBUICHI
The common grade of SHIBUICHI.
NANAKO-JI
Literally "fish roe"; parallel rows of raised dome-shaped dots produced with a hollow nosed punch as a surface treatmentmainly on KINKO tsuba, but in rare instances is found on iron plate as well.
NANKO
Soft iron with a carbon content of 0.25% to 0.50%.
NARA SAN SAKU
"The three Nara artists", Toshinaga I, Joi I, and Yasuchika I. These three artists are considered to be the greatest masters of the Nara school, and are collectively known under this title.
NATAMAME
A kind of bean with a sword-shaped pod, used as a design motif.
NAWA
ANY design motif of twisted form resembling rope.
NAWAME FUKURIN
A rim cover of rope shape sometimes used by the first Hikozo.
NAWA MIMI
A roped edge.
NERIKAWA TSUBA
A tsuba made from sheets of leather fastened together.
NEZUMI no FUN
"Rat dung" used in the coloring formula for iron tsuba.
NIGUROME (NIGUROMI)
An alloy made from copper and the alloy KATASHIROME.
NIJU KARAKUSA
An inlay design of two parallel lines of scroll work resembling vine stems, often used by the Higo school and their imitators.
NIKUBORI
Carving in relief on the plate surface, this style of carving will be called HORIAGE in some cases.
NIKUDORI
A feeling for the plate surface, its richness and the quality of its appearance. A good plate surface will be richin NIKUDORI.
NIKU-OKI
The variations on the surface of the plate. A plate surface having interest and variety by being well forged and hammered.
NISE-MEI
A signature that is a deliberate forgery.
NOSHI
A thin strip of dried sea-ear folded up in paper of a certain shape; a Shinto religious symbol.
NUNOME-ZOGAN
Inlay of thin sheets of metal fastened to the plate surface by means of a serrated ground. The design or pattern of these serrations will help to identify the work of certain masters, schools, and styles of NUNOME inlay.
OBOROGIN
Another term for SHIBUICHI, sometimes called "misty silver", in reality it is SHIBUICHI of a very pale color.
ODAWARA FUKURIN
A style of rim cover with two or more rows of parallel raised dots, first used by the TACHI-KANAGU-SHI in the Muromachi age, and later by Hirata Hikozo.
OKEZOKOGATA KAKU MIMI
An edge style raised above the plate surface and at right angles to it; "tub-bottom rim".
OKIGANE
Inlay soldered to the plate surface without a channel or depression having been cut to hold the inlay. The direct application of inlay metals.
OKINA YASURI
"Old mans beard", a style of file or chisel marks on the plate surface. They will be seen as incomplete concentric circles of varying width and depth.
OMODAKA
A design of water plants; Water-plantain. Used extensively for crests and in design motifs.
ONIN SHINCHU SUEMON ZOGAN
The complete term for brass inlay, or sheet inlay of Onin style.
ONIN SHINCHU TEN ZOGAN
The complete term for brass dot inlay of Onin style.
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ONIN TSUBA
A sword guard on which the base plate is decorated with dot and line brass inlay.
OROSHI GANE
Iron smelted by the smith at his own forge.
ORYUGI TSUBA
Refers to the later artists of a school who return to the designs and style of the original masters of the school. May also refer to a renaissance within a school.
O-SEPPA
Large seppa that cover most of the web area, commonly used with TACHI TSUBA.
OSHIGATA
A "rubbing" made of a tsuba or sword blade.
‚¨‘½•Ÿ
OTAFUKU-MOKKO
A tsuba shape resembling the silhouette of the Otafuku (plump-cheeked young woman) No mask.
RAIMON
A fretwork pattern covering all or part of the web area of the tsuba. "Thunderbolt" design.
RINZU
A surface pattern of inlay resembling the designs found on figured silk.
ROGIN
Another term for a type of pale SHIBUICHI.
ROHA
Copperas, a green hydrated ferrous sulphate used in coloring formulas.
ROKKEN RIMPO
Openwork design with five sides.
ROKUSHO
Verdigris, copper acetate used in coloring formulas.
ROKUYO
Design of six leaves in shaped pattern.
ROZUKE FUKURIN
The common style of rim cover that is a plain circle of metal fastened at one point.
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RUSUMOYO
Part of a design that is missing and left to the imagination.
SAHARI
An alloy of copper, tin, lead, and KATASHIROME used as inlay on Hazama style tsuba.
SAIKUMONO
"Metal handiwork", ready made metal work of various types.
SAKU
"Work", a production. Kanji that follows the name of the artist showing that the piece was his production.
SAMBASO
A play actor in the garb of a silver-bearded old man who appears and dances on the stage as a kind of prelude before the opening of the play. Sometimes used as a design motif.
SANDAIME
When following the name of an artist this means he is the third generation to use this name.
SANGAI MATSU
A design of a pine tree with three groups of branches at different levels; commonly used as a design by the Higo schools.
SEI
"To make". Following an artists name this means made by.
SEIDO
Bronze.
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SEKIGANE
Soft metal plugs inserted in the KOZUKA and KOGAI apertures on iron plate tsuba. Sometimes used instead of the term KUCHIBENI for the plugs at the top and bottom of the NAKAGO ANA.
SENBIKIZARU
A design representing the "one thousand monkeys" theme commonly used by the Mitsushiro school of Hizen.
SENTETSU
Pig iron.
SENTOKU-DO
Brass having a golden hue.
SEN-ZOGAN
Brass inlay of wire strips, often used on Onin style tsuba.
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SEPPA
Thin brass or copper washers, often gilded or gold and silver plated, that are used for packing and can also decorate the front and back of the tsuba .
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SEPPA DAI
A flat base around the NAKAGO-ANA which seats the Seppa ( washers ). Seppa are set on both sides of the tsuba.
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SHAKUDO
An alloy comprising of NIGUROME (copper) and small amount (1.5-10%) of gold. Polished, it is a rich blue-black to purplish-blue with a wonderful lustre.
SHAKUDO FUKURIN
A rim cover made of the alloy SHAKUDO.
SHI
A kanji stamp used as a design by the artists of the Tempo school.
SHIBUICHI
An alloy of copper and silver with seven major grades and several minor grades. Patinates to a dark gray.
SHIDARE SAKURA
A design of a long trailing cherry branch.
SHIGURE-YASURI
Vertical broken file marks on the plate that resemble falling rain.
SHIHO INOME SUKASHI
"Four boar eyes" perforations atthe four indentations of a MOKKO-shaped tsuba.
Žd“ü•¨
SHIIREMONO
Literally means "received commodity" and stands for mass produced items with a "brand name", In Tosogu it generally refers to tsuba and fittings made just after the Meiji Restoration ( 1867/68 ) and sold to tourists on the docks at Yokohama and Edo. These fittings are mostly low end but there are some better examples found.
SHINCHU
Brass (alloy of copper and lead or zinc). Another name is o-do (yellow copper).
SHINCHU SUEMON ZOGAN
Large areas of brass inlay such as that used by the Jingo school.
SHINCHU ZOGAN
Brass inlay.
SHINGEN
A term applied to tsuba plaited with brass and copper wire. The relationship of Takeda Shingen to this type of tsuba expressed in the past is false.
SHINO-YASURI
File marks on the plate running from upper right to lower left that resemble driving rain.
SHIO
Salt or brine often used in patination formulas.
SHIPPO
When this term is used to describe the decoration on a tsuba plate it refers to cloisonne inlay.
”’‹àŽt
SHIROGANESHI
A smith working in gold, silver or soft metal alloys.
SHIRO-SHIBUICHI
White colored SHIBUICHI.
SHISHI
A lion, often used as a design subject.
SHISHIAI BORI
A relief carving below the level of the main ground of the piece.
SHITA SHOKUNIN
The apprentices working under a sword or tsuba master.
SHITOGI TSUBA
A shape of tsuba used on tachi resembling the elliptical cake made of rice flour (used as an offering to the Kami).
SHOKOKU TSUBA
A term devised by Dr. Torigoye to encompass the independent workers and small schools in various provinces. These artists are grouped according to their local residence.
SOKENSHI
A maker of tachi ornaments. The same artist as the TACHI-KANAGUSHI.
SUAKA
Smelted copper (cf.yamagane or non-smelted copper).
˜–ä(Û›Æ)
SUEMON ZOGAN
Large areas of inlaid metal covering a significant portion of the web area.
SUHAMA
The shape of the opening in the tsuba for the insertion of the KOGAI; refers to the ridges of sand formed on a sea coast.
SUIGETSU
A design of waves and the moon often seen in the work of the Yagyu school.
“§’Õ
SUKASHI (TSUBA)
A generic term covering all openwork on the web of the plate of a tsuba. There are two types. Mon-Sukashi and Ji-Sukashi.
SUKASHIBORI
A sort of sculpturing in the round, generally applied to iron tsuba where the design is a positive silhouette.
SUKIDASHI-BORI (relief engraving)
This technique involves engraving along the outer edge of a metal design, to give lines depth. The decoration itself is left untouched as the entire background area is carved away, so the decoration stands out in relief.
SUKINOKOSHI MIMI
The tsuba edge that is gently raised and hammered above the plate surface.
SUKINOKOSHI-KAKUMIMI
An edge of the above type that is squared.
SUKINOKOSHI-KAKUMIMI KONIKU
An edge of the preceding type that is slightly rounded.
SUKINOKOSHI-MARUMIMI
A round edge of the SUKINOKOSHI type.
SUKINOKOSHI MARUMIMI-KAKIMI
A squared round edge of the SUKINOKOSHI type.
SUKISAGE MARUMIMI
An edge shape favored by the Hirata cloisonne school.
SUMIIRE
A beveled edge shape.
SUMIIRE KAKU-GATA
A square shape with a beveled edge.
SURITSUKE
A style of gold and silver NUNOME inlay that has a rubbed or worn appearance. Resembling old brocade, it is a style favored by the schools of Hizen and the Kyo-Shoami.
SURUGA KUCHI-BENI
A style of copper plug at the top and bottom of the NAKAGO-ANA inserted by the artist who made the Suruga style of tsuba. Somewhat enlarged over the common type.
SUZU-SEIDO
A tin-bronze alloy.
TACHI-KANAGUSHI
The maker of the fittings (KANAGU) for a tachi.
TACHI-SHI
The preparer to the TACHI-KANAGUSHI. He usually made the tsuba plate or prepared the base metal.
TACHI TSUBA
Any tsuba for use on a tachi.
èSÕ
TAGANE ATO
Literally 'punch marks'. These refer to the punch marks left around the tsuba's Nakago ana to help facilitate at tighter fit of the tsuba on the sword.
TAGANE-BASHIRI
"A moving chisel"; a fluid style of carving showing force and beauty as seen in brush painting.
TAIKO-GATA
A tsuba in the shape of a drum.
TAKABORI IROE
The design is modeled in high relief in a metal different from the tsuba's main body and is decorated with the inlay of other metals. There are three methods: uchidashi, sukidashi, suemon.
TAKARAZUKUSHI
The symbolical figures of the treasures of life.
TAKASAGO
A design of thepine trees of TAKASAGO; a harbor in the province of Harima, at the mouth of the Kako-gawa river, famous for its picturesque scenery.
TANBAN
Blue copper vitrol, used in patination formulas.
TATE YASURI
Vertical file marks.
TATSUNAMI
A design of waves with the crests in an upright or vertical position. This is the style used by Hirata Hikozo.
“Sœ
TEKKOTSU
"Iron bones" are lumps of higher carbon content material seen in the rim (mimi), or even the face, of some styles of tsuba. Bones come in various shapes and sizes. They can be long and ropy, bean shaped, pimple shaped, etc. They can be quite subtle or can appear in high relief. When a tsuba is in good rust-free condition, the bones will sometimes appear slightly blacker than the surrounding metal. Owari and Kanayama tsuba are particularly associated with having bones. Many different tsuba will have them to one degree or another. Generally, the mid-late Edo factory iron does not show bones. Bones are most commonly seen on Muromachi period tsuba, and also some very exaggerated tekkotsu are seen on revival work in the very late Edo. Also to look for in the mimi are signs of multi plate construction. This will be seen on some Akasaka tsuba. It can look sort of like pastry crust in extreme cases. These are called 'senkotsu'. Many good early tsuba do not have them.
TEN-ZOGAN
"Dot inlay". Any number of styles such as seaspray dots, dewdrops, or ONIN TEN-ZOGAN style.
TETSU
Iron.
TETSU KURI
A lacquer finish in imitation of the surface and color of patinated iron.
TOBAN
"A plate to be used on a sword". An old term for a tsuba.
TOKEI
A clock. Also a style of tsuba made in the shape of the gears of a clock.
TOKIN
A term for mercury gilding.
TOMI no MATSU
"A pine tree in the distance". A design favored by Hayashi Matashichi.
TOMOE
A comma-shaped figure representing the male or female principle.
TOMO FUKURIN
A rim cover made of the same material as the plate.
TORANKEI
An ovoid shape as seen in the HOJU tsuba.
TORII
The entrance gate to the grounds of a Shinto shrine; often used as a design on tsuba.
TOSHO
Swordsmith, or the style of tsuba made by swordsmiths.
TOSU
A style of dagger in use during the Nara age. Thought to be the origin of the KOZUKA.
’Õ
TSUBA
Japanese Sword Guard.
TSUBAGATANA
A katana that was mounted with a tsuba.
TSUBA-KA
A person who appreciates tsuba, or a connoisseur of tsuba.
TSUBA-KO
A maker of tsuba, usually applied to the maker of iron tsuba as opposed to the KINKO, or the makers of decorative tsuba. The true tsuba artist.
’Æ–Ú’n
TSUCHIME JI
Hammer marks on the surface of a tsuba. A surface that has a hammered appearance.
TSUSHIME SHITATE
Hammered surface showing the marks of the hammer as a surface finish. These hammer marks also show the ability of the smith.
TSUKA
The handle or pommel of a sword.
TSURUMARU
A tsuba in the shape of a crane with the wing tips touching over its head. "Round crane".
UBUZUKASHI
See MARUBORI.
‘Å•ÔŽ¨
UCHIKAESHI MIMI
The edge of a tsuba rolled and beaten onto the plate surface. One of the typical features of Ko-Katchushi guards.
UCHIKAESHI KAKUMIMI KONIKU
An UCHIKAESHI of rounded square shape.
UCHIKAESHI MARUMIMI
A round shape UCHIKAESHI edge.
UCHIKAESHI-SUKINOKOSHI MIMI
A combination of these two styles of edge on a single piece.
UCHIKOMI
A design of hammered seals, sometimes used by the first Nobuiye.
˜rŠÑŒŠ
UDENUKI-ANA
Two small round holes in the web of the plate, one slightly larger than the other (said to represent the sun and the moon) used for the passage of the Udenuki, a cord slipped over the wrist to prevent the sword from dropping to the ground during battle.
–„
UME
A metal plug placed in the Kozuka and/or Kogai-ana. (Ategane)
UNRYU
A design of dragon and clouds.
UTTORI ZOGAN
"Riveted inlay". A method of attaching gold ornaments to sword mountings much used by the earlier Goto. The outline of the piece is cut as a dovetailed groove in the piece to be decorated. The edges of the ornament are bent down and placed in the groove, and the latter set up against it with a blunt punch or chisel to hold it in place. If the ornament is not of gold but one of the cheaper metals a recess the size and shape of the ornament is cut in the base and the ornament is set in and secured as before.
UWABAMI-GANE
A plate surface finish that resembles snake skin.
UZU
A design of water currents or swirls.
WACHIGAI
A design or crest of two interlocking circles.
WAKI
"Branch", meaning a branch line from the main family, such as Waki Goto.
WARIIRE ZOGAN
Another name for WARIKOMI ZOGAN.
WARIKOMI FUKURIN
A rim cover inlaid into the edge of the plate of the tsuba.
WARIKOMI ZOGAN
Inlay that does not cover as large an area of the plate as does SUEMON ZOGAN.
YAKI-KIN
Pure gold.
ÄŽè
YAKITE
A method of finishing iron sword guards. A guard is heated to high temperature and then allowed to cool gradually. This method reveals the iron bones ( Tekkotsu ). Note: Yakite is also known as Yakinamashi Ä‚«“Ý‚µ.
YAKITE KUSARASHI
A surface design or finish that is made by acid treatment.
YAKITE SHITATE
A surface finish that resembles the glaze on pottery. It is produced by putting the finished plate back into the furnace and allowing the surface to slightly melt.
YAKITSUKE ('burned-on')
A gilding technique which was generally accepted in the late 16th c. and became the mainstream of IRO-E in the Edo period. Thin chips like gold and silver are tied with wire to the surface and attached by heat.
ŽR‹à
YAMAGANE
Unrefined Copper. This copper was made in times when the refining process was not as good as it is now. Other impurities are mixed in. The colur is deeper than modern Copper.
YAMAKICHI YASURIME
A style offile marks favored by the Yamakichibei school. They are radiating file marks that have several indulations.
YAMANASHI
A mountain pear; a design motif used by the Umetada school on its soft metal tsuba.
YAREOGI
A design motif of broken fans.
YASURI
A file or rasp.
YASURIME
File marks on the surface of the plate.
YATSU-HASHI
A design of a bridge with eight sections.
YATSUKANAWA
A design of one diamond shape inside another.
—z“§
YO SUKASHI
Positive silhouette used in the Ji-Sukashi method.
YODO no MIZUGURUMA
The water wheel on the Yodo river, a design used by the Daigoro school and others. The Yodo river is formed by the junction of the Uji and the Katsura rivers. It passes Osaka and flows into the sea by many outlets.
YOSHINO-GAWA
A design of the Yoshino river used by the Hazama school. The Yoshino river which rises in Tosa province, passes through Awa province and enters the Pacific Ocean at Tokushima.
Û›Æ
ZOGAN
Zo = 'form' and gan = 'inlay'; 'zogan' means inlaying one metal into the surface of another. A generic term covering all types of inlay. (see below)
Chirigami-zogan
Nunome inlay resembling 'coarse paper' in texture.
Gomi zogan
'Trash' or 'garbage' inlay.
Gomoku-zogan
"Dirt inlay" in which brass wire is applied at random.
Heianjo zogan
A form of brass inlay.
Hira-zogan
Inlay which is polished flush with the tsuba's surface.
Horikomi zogan
A carving filled with inlay.
Iroe zogan
Inlay of various colored metals.
Ito zogan
(line zogan, also sen zogan): After lines have been incised, wire-thin metal is inlaid.
Kaga zogan
True inlay (Hira zogan) of sentoku or silver in the earliest works.
Keshiire (Keshikome) zogan
An amalgam inlay.
Kiribari zogan (cut-out inlay)
Design cut out of a sheet of one kind of metal is inlaid into surface of another kind.
Nunome-zogan ('cloth' inlay)
The surface of an iron tsuba is covered or hatched with intersecting cuts. A wire or foil inlay is then tapped or burnished into place.
Sen-zogan
Brass inlay of wire strips.
Shinchu zogan
Brass inlay, can be Suemon inlay.
Shippo zogan
Colored vitreous enamels are melted into the recesses cut for them in the surface of the tsuba.
Suemon-zogan
A decoration carved of a metal which is different than the surface it is mounted on.
Sumi zogan
"Ink inlay". The tsuba ground is chiselled and in the course of polishing the inlay becomes united in such a way as to look like an ink painting beneath the surface of the tsuba.
Taka zogan
An inlay which is proud of the surface and is carved.
Ten-zogan
"Dot inlay".
Uttori zogan
Riveted inlay used by the early Goto.
Wariire (Warikomi) zogan
Inlay that does not cover as large an area of the plate as Suemon zogan.



 

Major Tsuba Ryuha (schools)

Ô”ö
AKAO
–¾–í –¾’¿
MYOCHIN
Ôâ
AKASAKA
–¾–í‹I
MYOCHIN Ki
ˆ¨
Aoi
ғӯ
Nanban
”õ‘O—^Žl˜Y
Bizen-Yoshirô
“Þ—Ç
Nara
•B
Bushû
¼Š_
Nishigaki
’·B
Chôshû
M‰Æ
Nobuiye
‘åŒÜ˜Y
Daigorô
‰žm (œäm)
Onin
‰z‘O
Echizen
ӚգҤ
Owari sukashi
—Ñ
Hayashi
‘‰³
Saotome
ӓ΋
Higo
³ˆ¢–í
Shôami
•½“c
Hirata
H“c³ˆ¢–í
Akita shôami
•½ˆÀéÛ›Æ
Heianjô Zôgan
‰ï’гˆ¢–í
Aizu shôami
•Fª’¤@“T
Hikone Bori Sôten
”õ‘O³ˆ¢–í
Bizen shôami
–@ˆÀ
Hôan
ŒÃ³ˆ¢–í
Koshôami
ˆÉ“¡
Ito
‹ž³ˆ¢–í
Kyô shôami
‰Á‰ê
Kaga
‘‰³—
Saotome
‹¾Žt
Kagamishi
‘”•¿Žq@“T
Soheishi Sôten
‰Á‰ê—^Žl˜Y
Kaga-Yoshirô
@“T
Sôten
Š™‘q
Kamakura
“V–@
Tempo
‹àŽR
Kanayama
“y²–¾’¿
Tosa Myôchin
‹à‰Æ
Kaneiye
“y²
Tosa
b™hŽt
Katchûshi
“ 
Tôshô
‹L“à
Kinai
–„’‰
Umetada
‹àH
Kinkô
–ö¶
Yagyû
ŒÃ“ 
Ko Tôshô
ŽR‹g
Yamakichi
‹ž“§
Kyôsukashi
ŽR‹g•º
Yamakichibei
…ŒË
Mito
—^Žl˜Y
Yoshiro

The above glossary and schools listing is compiled from TSUBA, An Aesthetic Study by Kazutaro Torigoye and Robert E. Haynes and other glossary's that are extremely helpful. Shibui Swords.



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