Description The front of this tsuba contains the death poem of Kusunoki Masatsura (1326-1348). In the 14th century, two branches of the imperial family claimed to be rightful heirs to the throne of Japan. Masatsura was loyal to the southern branch, established by the Emperor Go-Daigo (1288-1339). Masatsura was killed in battle against the supporters of the northern court. His loss at the battle seemed certain, so before leaving to fight he used an arrow to inscribe this poem on the door of Go-Daigo's funerary temple. "Should I not return, I leave my name among others killed by bows." The first line of the poem is carved along the right-hand edge of the tsuba and continues along the bottom. The other lines are read in order from right to left across the top. The background of the tsuba is sprinkles with small pieces of gold foil in the same manner often used on poetry paper. On the reverse of the tsuba are chrysanthemums by a stream.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Signature] 一秀謹造; [Transliteration] Isshû kinzô; [Translation] Respectfully made by Isshû; [Poem] 帰へらじと 兼ねて思へば 梓弓 亡き数に入る 名をぞとどむる; [Transliteration] Kaeraji to kanete omoeba azusa yumi naki kazu ni iru naozo todomuru; [Translation] Should I not return, I leave my name among others killed by bows
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
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