This is an absolutely outstanding ko-kinkô tsuba that dates to the early Muromachi era (early 1400’s). While it is somewhat small in size, it is imposing in its thickness and weight. The shakudo is a dark and lusterous and that coupled with its extreme weight are evidence of the high gold content of the metal. The carvings are outstanding and the condition is superb. This tsuba was designated to be a Jûyô piece in the 49th shinsa held in 2003.
Below is a translation of the Jûyô kanteisho:
Designated Jûyô Tôsôgu (Sword Mount) at the 49th shinsa held on the 9th of October, 2003.
Item: Tsuba illustrating plants and flowers, unsigned, Ko-Kinkô (古金工).
Dimensions: Height: 6.5 cent.; Width: 6.1 cent.; Thickness at the Mimi: 0.65 cent.
Description: Mokkô-gata (four lobed shape), shakudô with a nanako surface, high relief carving, uttori iro-e (colored with gold overlay), slightly rounded squared mimi and two hitsu-ana.
Period: first part of the Muromachi period.
Explanation: Regarding the Ko-Kinkô group, they have continued since long ago with a succession of works until the Momoyama period. This piece has a mokkô shape with deeply cut in lobes that we believe was part of an early tachi koshirae. The addition of the hitsu-ana was perhaps something that was done at a later time. As for the carving, there are various well-known plants and flowers carved in high relief into the shakudô nanako ground. There are uttori iro-e overlays, and this kind of technique is classical and deeply tasteful. Moreover, as a Ko-Kinkô piece, this tsuba has superb workmanship.