(Part 2 of 2)
   by Robert Haynes

If we examine the early books mentioned in the first paper it will be seen that they do contain some information of value. The first thing we notice is that the taste in tsuba was very different in the 18th century from that in the Meiji period, and that it was not dictated by collective taste, but by the individual author who compiled the work. Most of these early books on tsuba start with the two kanji TO BAN in the title. TO is sword, but HAN (ban in the phonetic sound) means: shallow bowl, platter, tray, board, disc, etc. The kanji for TSUBA is not used. Why this is the case has not been answered as far as I know. The books such as TOBAN FU (SWORD DISC RECORD) TOBAN ZUFU (ILLUSTRATED SWORD DISC RECORD) and TOBAN SHINPIN ZUKAN (SWORD DISCS OF HEAVENLY QUALITY PICTURE BOOK) all deal with tsuba in drawings or rubbings. The are in silhouette with only slight surface design visible. The TOBAN SHINPIN ZUKAN contains 313 such drawings, two to a page. (See illustration of selected examples). The SOKEN KISHO (RARE PRIZED SWORD EQUIPEMENT), devotes the first five of its seven volumes to sword fittings. In volume 5, pages 21 and 22, 12 tsuba are illustrated. They are all sukashi examples, except two small tsuba signed Nobuie. The descriptions that are above them describe the design but NOT a school, group or period that they might belong to. This is only natural because tsuba had not been given their formal names and tags that they have today. Which brings up the point of when were the names we apply to tsuba today invented? That question will concern us in the next paper of this series. (See illustrations of some of the tsuba in the SOKEN KISHO). It should be mentioned that these books and records of tsuba were not made to enlighten the public but to record examples of interest to the author of the book, for his private interest. They also are not records of the collections kept by great families to be used for their personal wear.

We can learn from these books that the history of the study of sword fittings is but a little over a hundred years old. That the terms applied to tsuba are an invention of the late Edo period. How did this formal consensus take place and by whom? As mentioned in the first paper there was no need for “NAMES” when sword fittings were still being worn. You went to a tsuba maker or a shop that sold fittings and purchased what you liked and could afford. It would be the same if you went today to buy a suite of clothes, each style of suite does not have a name, except that of the maker or such terms as tuxedo. Tsuba were called by the name of the maker, shop name, or the style of mountings that it would be used on. Such as Goto, Daigoro, or Tachikanagu. These general terms might have been in use in the mid to late Edo period, but terms such as katchushi, tosho, kinko, and the many place names for groups or styles of tsuba had not been applied any earlier that the 19th century. Why were these many names given to the individual examples that had not needed them before? This is where the HAITOREI EDICT of 1876 comes in again. When this vast flood of swords and fittings was thrown up for sale the sword and fitting dealer who sold to the COLLECTOR was born. The collector is a very different person from the person who wore swords as a natural course of every day life. The collector wants to KNOW what he is buying and what name should be applied to his purchase. As was mentioned in the first paper the dealer in swords and fittings was the natural authority in the Edo Period. The new collector would place himself in the hands of a dealer and form his collection as the dealer directed. This was all very new to the classic dealer of the later Edo period. Now the dealer was placed in the position not of outfitting a wearer of swords but forming a collection for a person who in most cases had never worn a sword. But a new development was about to put this whole situation in an international perspective. The foreigner arrived and commenced his love affair with all things Japanese.

Those who took an interest in Japanese sword fittings formed their budding collections with the help and guidance of the well known art dealers, with shops for the most part in Tokyo or Kyoto. Prime among these was the shop called AMIYA owned by Ogura Soemon. You will notice on page 1, of the fine new translation of the NIHON TO KOZA, by Harry Afu Watson, that the original text was by Ogura Soemon. This shows the respect that the collectors and other authorities in the world of fittings had for the knowledge of Ogura. What is not mentioned is that Ogura should have credited Akiyama as the source of this knowledge. The same as we see that Kuwabara is both the authority of the original volume 7 of the KOZA and that Kashima Susumu is credited with the revised version. In 1900 you could be both a great authority and a dealer, but this was to change where later the dealer was a pariah and only a scholastic soul could be an authority.

The KOZA does contain a distillation of the source information that was formed by Akiyama, Kuwabara, and Ogura. Even in the “revised” version printed in 1966, and edited by Homma and Sato, we see that the authorities of thirty years ago, Noda and Kashima, are credited with these updates of the two volume fittings section. But we must keep in mind that the basic source information in this, and most other works that we see today, was formed over a hundred years ago, and that a true reformation of all our source material, formed over the last hundred years, is sorely needed.

To return to the early books, not much more can be said about those published in the 18th century. There were about 20 various editions printed between 1800 and 1876, by such authors as, Matsudaira Rakuo (SHUKO JUSHU), which is still valid and useful, Iwase Kioden, Tsuge Masatada, Kawazu Sampaku, Umetada Schichizemon Munetoki (KINKO TANKI, 1827), Tanaka Ichigasai (KINKO JINKI, 1839), Kurihara Nobumitsu (ZANKO FURIAKU, 1844), Noda Yoshiaki (KINKO KANTEI HIKKETSU, 1820 reissued 1917), and in the last years of the 19th century we have the first book by Kuwabara Yojiro (TAGANE NO MEII, 1899), and (SOKEN KINKO DAN, 1904). In the 20th century some of the early books of note are Col. Nagaya (HIGO KINKO ROKU, 1902, second edition 1909), Matsumura (TAGANE NO HANA, 1903 - 5, 1911 - 12, and second edition 1971), Kuwabara Yojiro (CHOKINKO NEMPIO, 1909), Tsunashiro Wada (HOMPO SOKEN KINKO RYAKUSHU, 1913, and his famous FURUKAWA’S COLLECTION, 1913), Akiyama Kyusaku (TOBAN OGYO SETSUMEI, 1916), Honami Koga (KINKO JIN MEIROKU, 1920), Ogura Yokichi (AKASAKA TSUBAKO ROKU, 1921), Kuwabara Yojiro (KINKO ICHIRAN, 1922, later reprint), Kano Natsuo (TAGANE KO SANROKU, 1924), Ogura Soemon (HIGO KINKO ROKU, 1925, second edition 1929), Akiyama Kyusaku (NOBUIE TSUBA SHU, 1926), Torigoye Kazutaro (SHAKAIGAKU SHIRON, 1930, and NIHONTO SHINSETSU, 1934 - 36), Ogura Soemon (GOTO ICHIJO, 1935, and MEISHI TO TOKEN, 1935), Kawaguchi Noboru (TSUBA TAIKAN, 1935), and Kuwabara Yojiro (TOKEN KINKO SORAN, 1937, and NIHON SOKEN KINKO SHI, 1941). You can see the continuity of the work of this rather small group of authors and what they produced fifty years ago. Many of these should be considered source material that can still contribute to the available knowledge of the beginning student of today.

The last book on fittings of the 1940’s was Kuwabara Yojiro (NIHON SOKEN KINKO NO KENKYU, 1944), at which time Kuwabara died in a bombing raid. It would be, as one might suspect, a number of years before another book on fittings was produced. In 1952 Junji Homma and the newly formed N.B.T.H.K produced the first book on fittings published after the war. TSUBA MEISAKU SHU, the English title is, MASTERPIECES OF JAPANESE SWORD GUARDS. With this work the present flood of books was ushered in. One year before “A Special Loan Exhibition in Commemoration of the Singing of the Peace Treaty in San Francisco 1951? was held and a soft cover, 48 page catalog was produced in San Francisco. The preface was by Seichiro Takahashi, Chairman Cultural Properties Commission of Japan. The section on ARMORS #97 was the great purple laced suite of armor, 13th century, numbers 100 to 103 were famous koshirae, number 110 was a Myoju tsuba, 111 was a Matashichi tsuba (marked Myoju in the caption), 112 was the famous Omori Hikoshichi tsuba by Nara Toshinaga, 113 to 119 were Yasuchika tsuba and Somin small fittings, all the property of Tomojiro Miyazaki, who had purchased them after the war through Dr. Homma at about $500 each! This was the first major exhibit that contained famous sword fittings that was held outside of Japan. I am sorry to say that it took the war to make this possible.

The vast majority of books that have been produced since 1952 that deal for the most part with fittings, fall into four types. Exhibit catalogues, most of which were produced for public shows in Japan and a few that have been held in the West. Most of these contain famous fittings or mountings. Exhibit catalogs produced by provincial clubs or societies from local club members collections for the most part, are the last two types we should discuss. The many books which are revised or updated versions of worked produced during the hundred years preceding the reissue, and the works by authors, for the most part who have emerged since 1950. The reissue works are useful and valid in almost all cases. There is one thing to note here that has crept into a number of the books that have been printed in the last 35 years. The authors tend to illustrate works that have not been published before, which is fine, but many of these books are published so that the author or his representative can SELL many of the pieces illustrated. This is fine as that should be the prerogative of the owner. BUT many of these fittings are not as described. They are either falsely attributed, not of the age stated, poor examples, or are of contemporary make. The most notorious work to have all these reprehensible ingredients is the ignominious HIGO KINKO TAIKAN published in 1964 by the N.B.T.H.K. This work has most of the famous Higo tsuba included as well as pieces never published before. It also has many pieces that are not even slightly what they are said to be plus many pieces that were made in Higo style at the time of the publication! In fact the artist who made them has pointed out which ones he made, which was a considerable number. Many of the lesser examples and the imitations (they were not owned by the man who made them) were put in this work to sell them, and now they are spread through many collections and are legitimized by having been published in this book. This type of book places the un-initiated student and collector at a great disadvantage for the student thinks that what he sees illustrated in books such as this will advance his knowledge. He will compare pieces he holds in his hand to those in such a work and take for granted that the text and illustration are legitimate. Unfortunately a work such as this, and many others like it, will not advance the knowledge of the student, but will give him false information that will lead him away from the valid study he seeks. Be very careful of all the books used to study sword fittings these days. It is a shame that these books place all in such an odious position, the authors, students, dealers, and all who have faith in the published word. Be careful as you study, ask someone whose knowledge you trust concerning the validity of all and any books you use as a source of your studies. The study of sword fittings is difficult enough without using sources that are not valid.

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