Hirado Kunishige tsuba

72.5 x 70 x 5 mm


125 grams


Copper alloy, gold, silver


Hirado, Japan


18th century


Collection of James L. McElhinney

Price €2600, -

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The Island of Hirado was conveniently located just off the coast of Kyushu and was a lively hub of trade. Apart from Portuguese, Dutch, and British traders, the island was a known base of the powerful 17th-century pirate who turned Ming general; Zheng Chenggong, a.k.a. Koxinga. It also served as a forward base from which Hideyoshi launched the Japanese invasions of Korea of 1592–1598.

Kunishige was the only sword fittings maker on the island of Hirado, and his styles naturally found inspiration from the international environment he was in. They frequently show a mix of Chinese and European design elements. It is unknown how many generations there were, and it may have been a brand name rather than a single person. They were mainly active in the early 18th century, and made primarily tsuba (guards) and fuchi kashira (sets of ferrule and pommel).

For more information, see my glossary article: Hirado Kunishige


This example


Hirado Kunishige tsuba
Hirado Kunishige tsuba
Hirado Kunishige tsuba
Hirado Kunishige tsuba
Hirado Kunishige tsuba
Hirado Kunishige tsuba

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I might be interested in buying it.

Contact me

Rare old keris handle made into a European wax seal.


Upgraded with filigree to resemble a snuff bottle.


Very delicate work with carved guardian lions.


The Hindu mythical brother of Hanuman, the Monkey King.


19th century, probably originating from Cirebon.


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

Price on request