Nara- Swallows and Waves

Tsuba: Nara – “Swallows and Waves”

Signature/mei: Nara (kao)

Material: brass, shakudo, gold, copper

Era/jidai: Edo

Dimension: (h)76.2mm/(w)73.8mm/(rim)4.7mm

Custom made box with cushion

NBTHK: Tokubetsu Hozon (2018)

Price: €3150 / $3500 / ¥500000

The Nara school of kinko tosogu artist

Along with the Yokoya and Goto schools, the Nara school is one of the three major kinko schools. They represent some of the most important schools of kinko tosogu. Later schools are often modifications or developments of these main schools.
The school produced many students who were allowed to bear the name “Nara”. (Like this tsuba we see here in front of us.) Today we assume 7 generations of the mainline Nara school, wich in turn also had many students.
The founder of the Nara School is said to have been Nara resident Toshiteru (1579-1629), but unfortunately not all details from this period have been preserved.
Incidentally, the Nara artists were officially employed by the Bakufu under the title of “metal craftsmen” (kazari-shi), in contrast to the Goto artists who were employed as engravers (horimono-shi).
Many famous artists emerged from the Nara School, to name just one: Nara Toshinaga. But big names like “Tuchiya Yasuchika” and “Hamano Shozui” were also students of Nara artists and were influenced by this school.

As is often the case, the patina on this brass tsuba has developed really nicely. The raised edge beautifully frames the scene of two swallows flying over waves. As if we were looking at a picture painted by this Nara school artist. Both swallows are decorated in shakudo with some fine copper and gold accents. Gold was also used for the gout drops created by the waves – reaching up to the ura side. The overall impression is clearly a Nara school tsuba. Luckily the tsuba is also signed with “Nara” and “kao”.