Antique Japanese tsuba with motif of monkey and a horse. In Japanese tradition monkeys where horses guardians and healers.
Tsuba made of shakudo with gold, silver and copper inlay. In some places gold is inlaid and in other shakudo base is gilded.
Tsuba is good condition with some exceptions: there is a partial fingerprint on omote seppa dai. On ura there are some scratches on and around seppa dai.
Size: 70 mm x 66 mm x 5 mm
"Following Chinese traditions that keeping a monkey in a stable would protect horses from diseases and accidents, the Japanese gave monkeys the important role of horse guardians, honorifically called the umayagami (厩神, "stables god"). This belief gave rise to two related practices (Ohnuki-Tierney 1987:48–49). First, both samurais and farmers covered their quivers with monkey hides so as to harness the protective power of the monkey over horses. Second, people drew horse pictures on ema (絵馬, lit. "picture horse") "votive wooden plaques" and offered them at Shinto shrines to ensure the health of their horses. "A large number of ema from various historical periods and regions of Japan depict monkeys pulling horses, providing rich evidence that the monkey functioned as guardian of horses." Monkeys were believed to scare away other animals and pests, and farmers in southern Japan fed monkeys in order to protect their fields.
The Kōjien dictionary says sarumawashi (猿回し) "monkey trainer" derives from saruhiki (猿曳き "monkey puller"), and quotes Japanese folklore scholar Kunio Yanagita that trainers were also originally bai (馬医 "horse doctors"). Yanagita also described the ancient Tōhoku region custom of umayazaru (厩猿 "stables monkey") that was mentioned in the Ryōjin Hishō and Kokon Chomonjū. This "stable monkey" originally referred to monkeys living in stables in order to protect the health and safety of horses, and later referred to putting up a symbolic monkey skull, paw, or picture.
The monkey's role in healing was not limited to horses, but also extended to monkey deities and monkey medicines (Ohnuki-Tierney 1987:50). The supernatural beings associated with the monkey—kōshin, saeno kami, and jizō—"are all assigned the role of healing." Many parts of the monkey's body have been used as medicine, since at least the 6th century. "Even today, a charred monkey's head, pounded into powder, is taken as medicine for illnesses of the head and brain, including mental illnesses, mental retardation, and headaches." Furthermore, representations of monkeys are believed to have healing powers. Three Wise Monkey figurines are used as charms to prevent illnesses. Kukurizaru "small stuffed monkey amulets" are thought to be "efficacious in treating various other illnesses, as well as childbirth."