There are many dozens of schools of tsuba artists from the earliest days of the Japanese sword. The majority of tsuba found today are from the Muromachi through Edo periods. The following chart shows some of the major schools of tsuba makers and the periods in which they worked. The dates should be taken very liberally, more as general ranges rather than precise dates as historical references often are incomplete, vague or contradictory as to exact dates and periods of some schools and artists. This chart was compiled from information from numerous sources. Any errors in interpretation of time periods are mine and not those of the reference work authors.
Tsuba made in the early period of the various schools tend to be the most representative of the school with a few exceptions. By the late Edo period many styles were overlaping and the works of various schools "merge" to be almost indistinguishable. Thus we have later tsuba refered to in mixed terms; i.e., Bushu - Choshu; Nara - Mito; Goto - Waki Goto - Mino Goto, etc. In the mid to late Edo periods, the Shoami and its numerous branches produced tsuba of nearly every conceivable design. In many cases it is nearly impossible to attribute an unsigned tsuba to one specific school or maker; even the major Japanese references vary in their attributions. See examples of various styles of tsuba.
Early Japanese Sword Guards: Sukashi Tsuba by Masayuki Sasano
Toso Soran by Kazutaro Torigoye
Tsuba: An Aesthetic Study by Kazutaro Torigoye and Robert Haynes
Nihon To Koza (Volume VI, Part I) by Souemon, revised by Kiyoshige (trans. Watson)
The Arts of the Japanese Sword by B. W. Robinson
The Samurai Sword: An American Perspective (Volume 2, Sword Fittings) by G.D. Murtha
See the books page for more books on tsuba.
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