Iron Soten School Tsuba Decorated with Kanzan, Jittoku and Sennin with Tiger
Iron Soten School tsuba decorated with Kanzan, Jittoku and Sennin sitting on a tiger. Most probably it is Bukan Zenshi. It is not common to see those three together. Kanzan and Jittoku are popular symbols of Zen Buddhism and as such are not usually mixed with different legends and stories. In most cases they are shown with they carefree attitude. On this tsuba Jittoku has a rather grim expression and is kneeling before the Sennin. And this behavior is as far from his charakter as possible. Therefore in my opinion this tsuba might be a statement or a voice in conversation against principles of Zen Buddhism.
This tsuba is made in Soten School style however it is very far from usual works of that group. First of all it shows Kanzan, Jittoku and Sennin. Most Soten tsuba will show samurai or Chinese poets. Other distinctive feature is rather high quality of soft metal craftsmanship. In most soten tsuba there will be just small parts with real inlay and not much expression on the faces. At the same time we will see lots of gold nunome zogan all around the tsuba. On this piece there is just a bit of gold nunome zogan but planty of beautifully carved copper, shakudo and silver inlay. Based on that I hoped to find more about the maker of this piece however as of now did not manage to get a better attribution. The style points out to one of the Schools located in Edo, rather than Kyoto or other parts of Japan.