Beauty at the Hilt

A sample of amazing Japanese sword tsubas, dating primarily to the 1700s, from the John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection at the Worcester Art Museum

  1. Tsuba (sword guard) with Ho (sail) Motif. Japanese, 1700s. Copper-gold alloy. 2014.404
  2. Tsuba (sword guard) with Dragon Design, Japanese, 1700s. Iron, silver, gold. 2014.538
  3. Tsuba (sword guard) of openwork design with stylized pawlonia theme. Japanese, the late 1500s–early 1600s. Russeted iron, lead plugs. 2014.536
  4. Tsuba (sword guard): Deer Belling at the Autumn Moon. Japanese, early to mid-1800s. Iron, gold, silver, shakudo, and other copper alloys. 1976.239.
  5. Tsuba (sword guard) with Peony Design. Japanese, 1600s. Iron, shakudo plugs, embedded flat gold inlay. 2014.401
  6. Nanban School, Tsuba with Dragons, Waves, and Tendrils. Japanese, 1700s. Iron with gold inlay. 2014.108
  7. Tsuba of Sukashi-bori (openwork silhouette) type. Japanese, the mid-1500s–early 1600s. Iron. 2014.103
  8. Yoshū Matsuyama Jū Shoami Molikuni, Tsuba (sword guard) with bridge scene. Japanese, the late 1700s–early 1800s. Iron and copper. 2014.405
    9 Tsuba with Design of Sho Ki Chasing a Demon. Japanese 1700s. Iron and shakudo (?) with gilding. 2014.110.

If you have never been to the WAM and seen the 2,500-piece Higgins Collection, you are missing out. If nothing else, check out the website, where they have many more striking items in photos. 

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