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Hōan Tsuba

Iron Hōan tsuba (法安鐔), with a very pleasing variation of the motif of the Rinpō, or Wheel of Buddhist Law (Sanskrit: dharmachakra), with 16 spokes (vs typical 8). In Buddhist texts and rituals, the phrase "turning the Wheel of the Law" refers to the act of teaching by the Buddha Shakyamuni. Each of the eight spokes represents one of the moral admonitions of the Noble Eightfold Path. In Japanese esoteric Zen Buddhism, the use of 16 spokes often represents the 16 Great Bodhisattvas, while the sword in place of spokes, may symbolize wisdom cutting through ignorance.

Hōan group is known for a specific technique called yakite-kusarashi (焼手腐らし), which involves the use of near-melting heat, as well as acid selectively applied to the surface, in combination with lacquer as a block. This technique allows the production of fine designs with the appearance of a slightly melted surface. The unique surface texture is glossy, with subtle low relief detailed designs which have softened, natural edges.  This tsuba beautifully demonstrates this technique.  Remnant thin black lacquer remains on the surface.  The hitsuana are of a style common to the late 16th to early 17th centuries.  I personally don't believe this tsuba represents the work of the first two Hōan masters, but this determination is subjective, and the style does suggest it is a product of the early generations.  A partial single character inscription remains next to the nakago-ana, in the right image.  The size of the tsuba is a touch small for a katana, but perfect for the one-handed Katate-uchi (片手打ち) style of sword popular from the Momoyama to early Edo periods.

Translation of the Hozon paper description follows:

輪宝図鐔 (Rinpo-zu tsuba)

無銘 法安 (Mumei Hōan)

丸形 鉄地 焼手腐らし (Maru-gata tetsu-ji yakite-kusarashi)

角耳小肉 (Kaku-mimi Ko-niku)

Heisei 28th year (2016) May 11th


Measurements: 7.35cm x 7.35cm x 0.34cm

Early Edo Period (江戸時代前期), 17th century.



Hoan Rinpo Tsuba_1300px 

Hozon Paper_1300px 



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