Tag Archives: Worcester Art Museum

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. 


Today the term “BBQ Gun” floats around for those who utilize a nice or customized handgun for some sort of open carry, be they a small-town sheriff ala Longmire style or just someone who likes to exercise their 2A rights with a little flair.

The Nighthawk Custom Hi-Power is a good example of a BBQ gun…functional by all means, but something you would want to show off a bit if you carry it

In the old days, this was simply just done with swords.

Smallsword, plaques by Wedgwood (British, founded 1759), about 1790. steel, faceted, burnished, blued and gilded, iron, and stoneware (Jasperware). The John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, Worcester Art Museum 2014.49.

As noted about the above beautiful blade by the WAM:

Stylish men wore swords as part of their daily wear from the 1500s until the 1700s. This superb smallsword was made shortly before civilian swords went permanently out of fashion. Its light, edgeless blade is designed for civilian dueling, but the real purpose of this weapon was to impress rather than kill. The cut-steel beadwork on the hilt imitates the look of diamonds, and the jasperware Wedgwood plaques feature neoclassical designs inspired by Roman and Etruscan archeological finds.