Museum of Fine Art, Boston
Tsuba are the round or squarish guard at the end of the grip of bladed weapons such as the samurai katana sword. The main purpose of the tsuba is to prevent the hand from sliding down from the grip onto the sword blade such as during thrusts. During medieval times, the tsuba were more functional rather than for decoration and were made from stronger metals. During the Edo period, tsuba were more often designed for ornamentation. Many tsuba were finely decorated and today are popular collectors items.