A heavy cast iron tsuba carved with a textured surface to resemble the cavern in which the founder of Zen Buddhism, Daruma, spent nine years of meditation. Here, Daruma is nestled inside a carved out opening, his hunched, robed figure overlaid in copper, shibuichi, shakudo and gilt. Outside the cave, faintly visible, a tree with gilded leaves stands atop a cliff; on reverse, a silver moon shines through tree branches sprinkled with gold. This contemplative representation defines Daruma’s appropriate position as a major figure in Japanese religion and fine art. This tsuba is in excellent condition. On the front surface is Tomohide’s signature and kao.
19th Century, Japan