VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Tsuba
RKM 370-1906
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Röhsska Museum’s collection of tsubas is large and opulent. This tsuba is one of the finest in the museum's collection and may be seen as a masterpiece from the period. Per Dahlström, Curator, Röhsska Museum

History of the Object
A tsuba is a sword guard that forms the boundary between the blade and the grip. Its chief functions are to balance the sword, prevent the hand from reaching the blade and to protect the hand from an adversary’s cuts. Early designs were simple and emphasis was primarily on function, but during the Edo period (1603–1868) there was a demand for luxury objects and the tsuba became increasingly more of an artistic embellishment and status symbol whose chief purpose was to communicate its owner’s social status. Tsubas became popular as collectors’ items toward the end of the nineteenth century. The Röhsska Museum has a large, first-rate collection of tsubas. Their embellishments portray an entire world; a microcosm showing heaven and earth, mythological figures, people, everyday objects, plants and animals. Seen here is an eighteenth century iron tsuba with features in gold. The motif shows two cranes facing each other and whose outspread wings complete the tsuba’s circle. The thin layer of gold plating has the character of a net-like fabric. The crane is an ancient symbol of good fortune in Japan, still used today to express congratulations. The notion “Thousand Cranes” encompasses the Japanese custom of demonstrating loving concern for a sick relative or friend by making one thousand origami cranes.

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Type
Weaponry 
Materials
Iron with gold features 
Measurements
Height 8,4 cm  
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
unknown 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century 
Function
A tsuba is a sword guard that forms the boundary between the blade and the grip. Its chief functions are to balance the sword, prevent the hand from reaching the blade and to protect the hand from an adversary’s cuts. 
Acquisition
Purchased as part of Fredrik Martin’s collection, 1905. 
Copyright
The Röhsska Museum 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
The Röhsska Museum 
Museum
The Röhsska Museum, of Design, Fashion and Decorative Arts 
Credit line
 

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