Mumei (unsigned): attr. to Kyō Kenjō
Size: 8,01 cm x 7,96 cm
Thickness at rim: 0,38 cm
Weight: 144 gr
Period: Mid Edo
There is no certificate
In kiri box
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Kyô-Kenjô (presentation sword guard made in Kyôto)
On round shape iron tsuba, plant design is engraved and inlayed with gold.
It is a gorgeous tsuba with inlay detail.
This therm is not precisely defined but refers to tsuba assumed to have been made in Kyōto that were bought as gifts.
In the early Edo period, around Shōhō (1644-1648) and Meireki (1655-1658), there was a certain Jūichiya Kichibei living near Kyōto’s intersection Teramachidōri-Shijō. This Kichibei had in his employ some craftsman who made tsuba that were sold as souvenirs to travelers and to western bushi who came to stop in Kyōto with their Daimyō en route to Edo for the sankin-kōtai attendance. These tsuba are referred to as kenjō-tsuba.
Even though the entry says only Kenjō-tsuba, we should use the more specific term Kyō-Kenjō-tsuba.
As for the interpretations of such tsuba, they are iron ita-tsuba, or sometimes also sukashi-tsuba with a fine gold nunome-zōgan ornamentation. There are also some that show takabori or are worked in nikubori-sukashi but which are decorated in gold nunome-zōganas well. Motifs are usually decorative and relatively easy to grasp, for exemple:
The eight views of Ōmi, Kō Sekikō and Chōryō, Benkei on the bridge, Sanbasō dancers, European ships, a bamboo grove, playing cards, chrysanthemums, landscape with a lake, saya pattern, raimon pattern, phoenix, drums, or folding screens.
When it comes to individual names of makers we know from extant signed pieces the artists Kiyonaga, Kiyonori, Kiyotsune, Kiyotatsu and Kiyokage.
The vast majority, however, are unsigned. It seems that Kyō-Kenjō-tsuba were really popular in their time.
The fact that they are of iron and show a nunome-zōgan decoration suggests that Kyō-Kenjō-tsuba emerged from the Kyō Shōami group, which applies also to work in Awa-zōgan.