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Shōnai School Tsuba

Shōnai school (庄内) iron tsuba, signed with kao (花押), attributed to Yoshitoki (宜時).  The motif is a classic cloud dragon motif.  The motif is often described as waves and cloud dragon, or Hatō unryu (波濤雲), implying ocean and sky, but this is an incorrect interpretation.  There is a type of cloud which mimics the classic stylized cresting wave in Japanese art (see below).  The dragon's domain is a turbulent, billowing, cloudy sky.   The motif is well executed with a carving technique termed Katakiri Kebori (片切毛彫). The shape of this tsuba is round, or maru-gata (丸形). The rim is squared, with tiny bit of roundness, Kaku-mimi ko-niku (角耳小肉). The plate is perforated with two small holes called udenuki-ana (腕貫孔), though the NBTHK Hozon papers only describe them as ko-sukashi (小透).

 The tsuba is signed with a Kao (花押) on the reverse side, but no signature.  Fortunately the kao has been tracked down, and it is believed to be that of a Shōnai school artist named Yoshitoki (宜時), see reference image below.


Translation of the Hozon paper description follows:

波濤雲図鐔 (Hatō unryū zu tsuba)

 (花押) (Mei  [Kao])

丸形 鉄地 片切毛彫 小透 角耳小肉 (Maru-gata tetsu-ji katakiri-kebori ko-sukashi kaku-mimi ko-niku)

Heisei 28th year (2016) November 8th


Measurements: 8.15cm x 8.21cm x 0.45cm

Mid Edo Period (江戸時代中期), ca. 1725-1775



Shonai Yoshitoki Cloud Dragon Tsuba_1300px 


Shonai Yoshitoki References_900px 

References: Left: Wakayama, Toso Kodogu Meiji Taikei, vol.III, pg 45. Right: Joly, Shoshankenshu, 1st ed. 1919.

Shonai Yoshitoki Cloud Dragon Tsuba Paper_900px 



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