Carved out of copper alloy with details highlighted in gold.
76 x 73 x 4.8 mm
18th or 19th century
From a Japanese collection
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A Japanese nanban tsuba of the 18th or 19th century, depicting an 18th-century European rigged ship.
Such tsuba differ in quality from excellently made to shiiremono; ready-made, mass-produced goods. This one tends towards shiiremono especially in the kind of careless way the beaded rim is shaped. The ship itself, however is nicely carved and a notch above the typical shiiremono. And even within that genre, Western ships are quite rare.
Guards with such motifs were popular in the 19th century when Western learning was all the hype. Nanban-style guards were among others popular among doctors who were fascinated with Western medicine.1
1. Charles R. Boxer; European influence on Japanese Sword Fittings 1543-1853.
Transactions and Proceedings of the Japan Society.
London. Volume 26, pages 151-178.
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Very delicate work with carved guardian lions.
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