We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

The Namban group of Japanese sword guards: a reappraisal

Lissenden, John Philip (2002) The Namban group of Japanese sword guards: a reappraisal. Masters thesis, Durham University.



There has always been a distinct dearth of scholarship with regard to the Namban group of tsuba. Many reasons can be proposed to explain this neglect, but one of these is undoubtedly the very large and disparate number of tsuba that were originally included under this heading. Ogawa's redefinition of the group in 1987 was not without its problems, but has resulted in a much more clearly defined and manageable corpus of work; it is against this background that the present reappraisal is submitted. The early confusions resulting from the use of the term 'Namban' are described and the group is redefined in the light of Ogawa's intervention — many of these defining characteristics are individually examined in some detail. No statistical analysis of tsuba has been published since Gunsaulus' work on a mixed group of 746 artefacts in 1923. In this reappraisal, her results have been compared with those obtained from the examination of a corpus of 273 Namban tsuba, gathered from public and private collections in Europe, and this comparison casts some doubt on Gunsaulus' figures. A comparable analysis of 1,045 arbitrarily selected tsuba, of mixed groups and periods, reinforces this doubt. The case for the use of modern physical methods of chemical analysis in the study of Namban tsuba is considered. It is concluded that the time is not yet ripe to enable the optimal use of such studies, although a case is made for the limited use of electron microscope scanning in order to define the place of mercuric gilding in the often profuse decoration of this group of tsuba. Finally, casting techniques are discussed and evidence is produced of their widespread use in the production of Namban tsuba. It is apparent that the new definition of the Namban group of Japanese sword guards enables a much more focused study of the group, although the absence both of any detailed knowledge of the many Namban workers scattered throughout Japan, and of any inscriptions on their work, remain serious barriers to the systematic attribution of these tsuba.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2002
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Aug 2012 11:39

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter