Bushu Ito   

Third Master of the Ito School, Genjirō Masakata (died third year of An'ei, 1774).  Signed: BUSHU JU MASAKATA.
Sukashi design: Saddle (kura) and Hollyhock (aoi) with gold nunome zogan details.   Late Edo, circa 1750 (Kan'en / Hōreki era).
Material: Iron (tetsu).  Shape: round (shin no maru-gata).  Height: 72.9 mm. Width: 69.4 mm.   Rim thickness: 5.2 mm. Centre thickness: 4.9 mm.  Squared rim (kaku mimi).  

 

The saddle is probably the symbol of a military commander.  Aoi  (Asarum caulescens), called hollyhock or bistort or heartvine in English, was believed in Heian times to have the power to ward off thunderstorms and earthquakes.  Aoi  was the emblem of the Tokugawa and related families, including the Matsudaira.  This more modest tsuba features the same formal black and gold as the extravagantly expensive and elaborate Goto school fittings, colors expressive of the conservative taste of the Tokugawa shogunate.  This example would thus be an appropriate uniform-equivalent accessory of a Bakufu retainer of officer's rank.

 

 

Similar published example:

Tetsu, shin no maru-gata, tsuba.   Pierced in Yo-sukaski a Kuri (saddle and a Muchi (riding crop) with gold surface details. Edo Period Bushu work.
óGalerie Ebl
ť, Summer Exhibition 1988, Amsterdam.