Tsuka-ito colors.

Discussion in 'Koryu Bujutsu' started by Bronze Statue, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. Bronze Statue

    Bronze Statue Valued Member

    What do tsuka-ito colors signify?

    I've heard that red ito on a weapon is only used as honorific gifts to master instructors (purportedly it was assigned solely for generals), and that black was the standard color for on-duty shogunate soldiers.

    What do other colors (e.g. brown, purple, blue) signify? I've seen some styles use brown or blue swords, and I've seen in some dojos dark green ito and once even orange ito (it was a heavily decorated tachi on a rack), but the latter swords were not actively being used.

    Before someone jumps in and assumes that I'm a newbie looking for advice to prematurely buy a sword and says "ask your instructor", rest assured that that's not the case; I got my sword quite a ways back and don't currently need another one.
  2. fifthchamber

    fifthchamber Valued Member

    Whatever the colour of one's Tsuka Ito used to mean, it doesn't carry the same meanings these days. I have not heard of one colour being prefered by the whole school, although of course, one would be more likely to follow one's instructor and his tastes (Extravagent, subdued, classical etc)..

    I would suspect that the choice of one's own Tsuka Ito colour is based largely upon what you feel your instructor would approve of..Although even with this it is not rare to see more colourful splashes every now and then.

    For the most part, it's a personal choice, albeit one made with a variety of influences.

    Sadly, I would suspect that the answer to your question really is "ask your instructor" (Or follow his lead to some degree).

    Since even now, the Tsuka Ito is one way to show some creativity in sword choice, it can be heavily influenced by your own personality..Bright colours for those wishing to make somewhat more of a statement, and subdued blacks and browns for those who want to toe the line more..

    I suspect that the same logic applied in the past as well...Those who could afford a Tachi would have been likely to have more ostentacious colouring due to the fact that they were probably higher in the social ranks...A more plain colour for a lower ranked man..I would think..

    Anyway...That's what I have seen in my own experience here.

  3. Rock Ape

    Rock Ape Banned Banned

    Where did you hear such information ?

  4. Hyaku

    Hyaku Master of Nothing

    Just choose a colour in a material you can keep clean to show that you look after your weapon. Japanese colours are usually rather sombre for men
  5. beer_belly

    beer_belly Valued Member

    Back pre Meiji the Japanese had sumptuary regulations dating back to Heian times that specified colours and materials useable for clothing for different classes of people, but I have not read one that proscribed tsuka ito colour specifically.

    It would not suprise me unduly since the regulations in one area went as far as saying only puppet generals could have gold or silver caps in the puppet shows.

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