Posted by Jason M. on 1/13/2023 to Learn About Swords
Today, we continue our series of Learning About Swords with the Tsuba. This article will give you the definition, pronunciation and history of the Tsuba, an integral part of the Japanese sword.
What is a Tsuba?
The tsuba, (pronounced "Soo-Buh") is the part of the Japanese sword (Katana, Wakizashi, Tanto) generally referred to as the guard on most other types of swords. The tsuba is probably the most well known part of a Japanese sword and where many of these swords get their names. In olden times, Tsuba were mostly made of Iron, brass or copper. Today, most tsuba on battle ready Japanese swords are still made of iron, however, most decorative Samurai sword tsuba are made of metal alloys. The tsuba has many roles and plays them perfectly. The first role of the tsuba is just like any other guard: to protect the hands of the wielder from an opponents blade. The second is to stop the wielder's hands from sliding up the blade. The third is to balance the sword.
Tsuba Shapes and Styles
Today, There are a lot of different sizes and a few shapes that tsuba can take. There are square tsuba, round tsuba and a few that don't really match any normal shape such as a Musashi style tsuba which is two joined rings. Where each tsuba really differentiates from another is the decoration applied to them. Some tsuba are just plain with no decoration, but many have dragons, flowers, horses and even scenes with meanings rooted in Japanese lore.
We hope you have enjoyed this post on Tsuba, and if you have any questions or comments, please post them below!