The KO NARA / NARA School


Edo period.

Basic Shape:

Round, oval, or mokko. The majority of the round shapes are also goishigata (tsuba plate of convex cross section resembling the stone used in the game of GO.


The seppa dai area is usually not designated.


Average size or smaller.


Round or dotemimi, sometimes with iron bones, are usual.

Design Characteristics:

Birds, flowers, human figures, and others. The composition is artistic and in keeping with the size and shape of the plate. Nearly all types of inlay, carving, and other techniques will be found. In fact, the ability of these artists in decoration shows mastery of nearly every aspect of their art. Generally a mixture of metals will be used in the decoration, never garish or in bad taste. The tsuba on the whole is graceful and precise in feeling with a restraint very rarely found in their type of decoration when used by other schools.

Plate Metal:

Most are iron, but a few are yamagane or shakudo.


Though the quality of the iron may be common, iron bones (tekkotsu) are often visible. The best plate resembles katchushi tsuba. Both hammered surface and smooth surface were used.


It would seem logical to make the division of old, from new, Nara work at the period of Toshinaga. In the early Edo age a great many artists made Ko-Nara style tsuba, some were members of the main family but others were only distantly related. Thus the term Ko-Nara applies more to the style of the tsuba than it does to the family of artists whose name it bears.

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