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Nara Chinese Sages Tsuba



A wonderfully detailed and artistically rendered image of two Chinese sages, with a tree on the obverse.  Very dense plate covered with surface tekotsu, this is truly a serious work.  7.7 cm x 7.1 cm x  3.8 mm.  Mid Edo.  NTHK  kanteisho, 73 points (Miyano faction). 

There were three  schools of Nara, and they were known as the sansaku. They were headed by Nara Toshinaga, Tsuchiya Yasuchika, Hamano Shozui (Masayuki).                                                                                                                                                                                 Yasuchika founder of the Shonai school of Nara, a student of Yoshihisa (Chinkyu).  He favored the designs of the Korin paintings, kusabana (grasses and flowers) tomabushi (thatched boat) Hotei, tsubame (waves and birds) chidori , tigers, elephant, etc.                                             Shozui specialized in high relief engraving.  He mostly employed oxen, horses, boars, bears, and Chinese people.                                         Toshinaga mostly made fuchi-kashira, and few tsuba and kozuka.  His specialty was people, and many warriors, wood cutters, shepherds, fishermen are depicted.  He also pictured oxen, shishi, birds, etc.

To judge by the motif, it would seem that this is from the Hamano Nara school of Shozui, .