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Tsuba for a Sword decorated with a Carp Leaping out of Water and a Wasp

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Kanô Natsuo (1828-1898)1863JapanIron with inlaid gold

A tsuba is a hand guard at the end of the grip of bladed Japanese weapons. It evolved from a rustic and simple hand guard of wartime to a highly refined status-symbol during the extended peace of the Edo-period (1603-1868). In 1876, it was forbidden to carry a sword in Japan and Natsuô was the last great master of sword embellishment. His work was influenced by the naturalistic style of painting by artists belonging to the Maruyama-Shijô school. This influence is evident in the painterly quality of the carp.