Lethal elegance: the art of samurai sword fittings
As the soul of the samurai, the sword is famously both the symbol and the instrument of Japanese military prowess. Less known, at least in the West, is its role as a fashion accessory or status symbol. And more than the weapon itself, it was the sword's metal fittings that reflected the complexities of samurai life, from codes of honor to flamboyant leisure - and that remain among the most sophisticated and accomplished metalwork ever created.
Lethal Elegance presents 150 of these remarkable sword fittings, and is one of the few books in a Western language to focus on their styles and techniques. It discusses the visual effects achieved with different alloys, the evolution of fittings following changes in warfare, the symbolism of motifs, and standards for connoisseurship. Nearly all these fittings were once owned by trained swordsmen, and the weapons they ornamented could surely inflict fatal wounds. But their extraordinary variety and beauty also reveal them as wonders of self-expression and personal style.
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Note to the Reader
IRON TSUBA FROM THE FIFTEENTH TO THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
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art society 1911 art-name Artist Unknown catalogue CHARLES GODDARD WELD chiseled Choshu copper sekigane craftsmen decoration DENMAN WALDO ROSS Edo period end plate example finished with carving Fittings from Japan fuchi GODDARD WELD COLLECTION Goto granulated surface Guards and Fittings Hamano high-relief carving inlaid Higo Province hitsuana Ichijo ICHINOMIYA inlaid with gold iron tsuba Ishiguro J.T. SPAULDING COLLECTION JAPANESE FUND Japanese Sword Fittings kanamono Kano Natsuo kashira katakiri-bori engraving kogai KOZUKA WITH DESIGN Kyoto lacquer literature machibori Meiji metal metalwork Mito motifs Museum Nagato Province NAKAGO-ANA nekogaki effect netsuke Ogasawara ogawa okabe patinated piece piercing polished surface Province reverse samurai scabbard seen sekigane shakudo Shibata Zeshin shibuichi Shoami shogunal Shomin signature silver Soyo stone-textured surface STURGIS BIGELOW COLLECTION style surface and high-relief Sword Guards technique Tokugawa Ieyasu Tokyo Torigoe Tsuba kanshdki TSUBA WITH DESIGN uchigatana Umetada UNNO MORITOSHI WALDO ROSS COLLECTION WILLIAM STURGIS BIGELOW workshops Yokoya Yoshimori