MING Tsuba

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Provenance:    James L. McElhinney
                               Elliott D. Long
"Iron Asian Export-style sword-guard. Dote-mimi, with Taoist symbols executed in taka-bori on ishime-ji. The ura is identical to the omote. Almost circular form, raised rim and distribution of designs is reminiscent of Chinese mirrors. The presence of Taoist symbols alone should lead one to question the assumption that this piece might be Japanese. The symbols represented are clockwise from 11 o'clock: a pair of books (scrolls) representing learning, an Artemisia leaf representing good health, the leather fan of the Immortal swordsman/scholar Lu Dongbin, a jewel or pearl, a Rhinoceros horn, and the lotus-flower of He Xiangu--protectress of good health. The elliptical formation of the seppa-dai might lead one to believe this is Japanese, but one must bear in mind that other countries, notably Vietnam, produced sword handles with oval cross-sections. As a result of isolationist policies enacted by the Ming Dynasty after 1450, a number of Chinese expatriate communities sprang up across Monsoon Asia. In all likelihood this guard was produced in China, or one of these foreign enclaves. Seems to date to early pre-1640, but without verified comparables it would be impossible to determine. The piece was awarded a Tokubetsu Kicho paper by the NBTHK in 1974, with an attribution as "Nanban"." (McElhinney & Long)
7.99cm x 7.98cm x 0.56cm


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A Collaboration of Robert E. Haynes and Elliott D. Long

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