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Plate guards of a Japanese sword that separate the blade from the handle. Typically, tsuba are round or kite- shaped, having a central opening for the tang of the blade and occasionally surrounded by a smaller perforations. They vary in size from about 8 to 15 centimeters, depending on the length of the blade. While tsuba were a functional part of the sword, they also evolved into an art form in their own right around the late 15th century and peaking in the 19th century. Materials can range from iron, brass, and steel to gold and silver, and rare ones of ivory or wood.

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