the mystery of the tsuba?

by mike DeGrazia
(new york)

QUESTION: o.k. just a quick question. what is the half moon shaped thing that seems to be so prevalent on numerous tsubas? some one said it was for a lock of some sort on swords produced during ww2, but these are on old tsubas as well.. im baffled at this great mystery, but i know you can help me, i hope! good karma to you.

ANSWER: Hi Mike,

I'd like to say that it is some mystical symbol that channels 'ki' energy or something - but unfortunately the answer is a bit more mundane (though with Japanese swords, you never know - there is likely some significance - despite the fact that it is actually a functional thing).

The hole is actually part of the seating for a Kozuka - or small companion knife that sits along side the handle and the sheath and is called kozuka ana. Watch any good Japanese Samurai movie and you may see one in action - a flick of the wrist and the small dagger can be used as a distraction before closing and drawing the blade (iai).

Hope this helps!

- Paul

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