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Tsuba logo

Tsuba (鍔 / 鐔)

Japanese name for a sword guard.
Chinese loukong export guard

Chinese lòukōng sword guard

The archetypical Chinese sword guard that gave rise to the Japanese genre of "nanban tsuba".
Jian guard logo

Hūshǒu (護手)

Chinese for the handguard of a weapon.
Chinese pierced sword guard logo

Qing openwork saber guard

A very rare Chinese saber guard dating from the height of the Qing dynasty.
Qing om a hum mantra saber guard

Chinese hùshǒu with lantsa script

A Chinese sword guard from the 18th century with a Buddhist mantra in lantsa script.
Qing hozon papers logo

Chinese sword guards in Japan

The Chinese saber guard is called dāo hūshǒu (刀護手), or hùshǒu pán (護手盤) in Chinese. This literally translates to "saber handguard" or "disc handguard". At some point, the Japanese got quite a taste for them. Over the years a number of them have turned up from Japanese sources that exhibit alterations that indicate they were used by Japanese on their swords.
Early chilanum hilt logo

Early chilanum hilt

An old bronze hilt in the shape of chilanum hilts.
Kogai

Kōgai (笄)

The Japanese term for a hair arranging pin that was worn in Japanese sword scabbards.
Wari kogai

Wari-kōgai (割笄)

The Japanese term for a hair arranging needle that can be split to form a pair of chopsticks.
Wari kogai logo

A Japanese wari-kōgai

Iron chopsticks that combine as a kogai, with silver inlaid Paulownia mon.
Sword guard

"South China Sea Guard"

Most likely used by the multi-cultural crews of pirate fleets that roamed the South China seas.
tachi-mokko-gata

Tachi-mokkō-gata (太刀木瓜形)

Japanese term for a cross-shaped tsuba often used on tachi swords.
Aoi-gata tsuba

Aoi-gata (葵形)

Japanese word for a sword guard shape. Literelly "hollyhock shape".
Kiyou Toujin tsuba

Kiyou-Toujin Tsuba

A Japanese style sword guard made in 17th century Nagasaki Chinatown.
Nanban steel tsuba

Tachi tsuba of nanban tetsu

A rare 17th-century sword guard made of foreign steel.
Aviz tsuba

House of Aviz tsuba

A Japanese sword guard with the cross of the House of Aviz.
Hisayuki

Hisayuki (久隨)

A Japanese maker of sword mounts, active in the Edo period.
Alluva

Alluva

Sinhala for side plates on a sword.
Sinhalese knuckle guard

Ath häde

Sinhala for "knuckle guard".
Knuckle guard

Ath väsma

Sinhala term given by Deraniyagala for "knuckle guard".
Korean guard

A Korean sword guard

Adjusted for use on a Japanese sword.
Kiyou Toujin tsuba

Kiyou Toujin tsuba (崎陽唐人鐔)

Japanese style sword guards made by Chinese craftsmen in Nagasaki.
Asian export sword guard

Asian export sword guard

An interesting pierced iron Asian export sword guard that is part of a small group of guards that were made with a mu

Saber guard logo

Dāo hūshǒu (刀護手)

Qing Chinese for "saber guard".
Iron ship sword guard

Iron ship sword guard

A chiseled iron sword guard depicting a Dutch ship with a figure on its stern.
Asian export sword guard

Sinhalese export sword guard

A large circular Asian export sword guard with elaborate decor carved in relief on both sides.
Hisayuki fuchi kashira

Fuchi kashira by Hisayuki

A beautiful signed Japanese ferrule and pommel plate.
Asian Export Sword Guard

Asian export sword guards

Sword guards that were made across Asia, specifically with export in mind.
Chinese saber mounts

Antique Chinese saber fittings

Description

An antique set of scabbard fittings for a Chinese saber, probably second half of the 18th centu

Chiseled khanda hilt

Chiseled iron khanda hilt

With blackened iron panels with decorative borders carved in relief.
Ship tsuba

Classic Choshu ship tsuba

The work nice and crisp, the execution has a naturalistic charm to it.
Ono school ship tsuba

Ono school ship tsuba

Description

A classic Japanese ship tsuba with a motif called “kazeho” (風帆) or “b

Canton style sword guard

Fine Canton-style export sword guard

Introduction

Many Asian export sword guards, and later Japanese guards inspired by them, were modeled after

Korean love lotus guard

"Love of Lotus" Korean guard

Description

Korean ceremonial sabers of the Joseon dynasty are pretty small and often exhi

Asian export sword guard

Asian export disc guard

The design, overlaid in silver, gold, and copper, over a crosshatched background shows dragon amongst clouds.
Ezo style tsuba

Ezo style tsuba

Introduction

What are today known as "Ezo fittings" are a style of Japanese sword mounts that are character

Asian Export Tsuba

Eight-lobed openwork tsuba

Description

A fairly unusual piece, of eight-lobed design.

Japanese tsuba

A Japanese nanban style tsuba

Description

An interesting little sword guard, of fairly simple form with designs carved i

Chinese loukong

Chinese openwork (loukong) saber guard

The archetypical Chinese sword guard of the 17th century.
Asian export sword guard logo

Asian Export sword guard

A large imported "Canton" sword guard with paired dragons chasing a jewel.

Nanban futakoromono

Nanban kogai & kozuka set (futakoromono)

The only set of its type known to me in both private and museum collections.
Nanban kozuka

A nanban kozuka / kogatana

Description

Japanese sword fittings that exhibit foreign influence are today commonly classified as nan

Chinese guard logo

Converted Chinese guard

A purely Chinese guard and not a very ornate one.

Asian export sword guards logo

Nanban tsuba & Asian export sword guards

For long, "nanban tsuba" literally "Southern barbarian sword-guards" have been a catch-all classification for sword guards for Japanese swords (tsuba), that show foreign influence.
Asian export sword guard

Chinese export sword guard

An iron openwork guard two dragons chasing a flaming pearl.

Nanban tsuba with christian orb

A nanban tsuba with Christian orb

A near round tsuba with beaded rim depicting two dragons in vegetal scrollwork.

Japanese nanban tsuba

A nanban tsuba

A rather good example of a Japanese-made nanban tsuba.