Daisho Soten School tsuba set decorated with Shingen Takeda (1521-1573) and his 24 Generals. One of the most famous Daimyo of Sengoku period.
Shingen Takeda is depicted at the upper right corner on the front side of the katana size tsuba. In his right hand he is holding a battle fan and in the left a prayer beads. This is a way he is shown during the fourth battle of Kawanakajima, that happened on 18th October 1561. It is because of one of the most famous duels in Japanese history. When Uesugi Kenshin himself managed to break in to Takeda camp and attack him. Takeda Shingen blocked the attack with the fan and managed to protect himself until his retainers came to the rescue. We can see him in the same pose on his Statue in City of Kofu, Japan.
Aside from Shingen himself, on the katana size tsuba there are his most trusted 24 Generals. Actually there are 24 people all together so only 23 Generals. However for some reason this is often how they where shown in Edo Period paintings and prints.
On wakizashi size tsuba there are 18 warriors. Unfortunately I am not able to determine who exactly are they. There are no family Kamon or other clues that would help with identification. In the same place as Shingen Takeda on katana size tsuba there is a very similar figure. He has the same body size (slightly bigger than any other warrior) and he is the only one sitting on a chair. Another interesting figure is on the left, playing Jinkai. It is a Japanese conch shell with mouth piece. It was used for communication on a battlefield.
I do not know who is on a wakizashi tsuba. In my mind this is a person who ordered this set to be made. With this he wanted to show his similarity to famous general Takeda Shingen and with playing Jinkai, signal that it is his time to enter the battlefield.
This set is made of iron and decorated with sukashi and takabori carving in very high relief. I failed to show it on pictures but relief of this tsuba is extraordinary high. Generals are carved deep in to the tsuba and many of them go over the rim line.
On tsuba there is copper, gold and silver inlay. As far as I can see no Iroe (gilding) was used. Faces, hands, weapons, some parts of yoroi, bowstrings and flowers are made with silver inlay. Gold decoration where made with two different methods and two alloys of gold. There is a lot of nunome zogan inlay made with gold foil and even more thick solid gold applied. We can see it very well on Takeda Shingen fan. Base of the fan is made with high gold content alloy and applied with nunome zogan. Main rib with high gold content alloy and inlaid. Perpendicular ribs made with lower gold content alloy and inlaid. And this goes on all around those tsuba. Each yoroi is made with mix of those alloys and techniques used.
This is very uncommon to use that much solid gold on Soten tsuba. In most cases only nunome zogan is applied because this method recquiers much less of the precious metal. That is why I think this set was made for special order.
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