This tsuba (sword guard) is made of iron and has four scalloped edges. In the center is a cutout design of peony blossoms and leaves, depicted from both sides on the front and the back. The long central cutout (called the nakago-ana) would hold the blade; the other two cutouts (the rounded shape is called the kozuka hitsu-ana, and the scalloped shape is called the kōgai hitsu-ana) on either side of the nakago-ana are decorative and would have been plugged with other metals such as gold or copper. This tsuba was originally a gift and may have been used as a paperweight.
A tsuba is a traditional Japanese sword guard. Typically round or squarish, tsuba are positioned at the juncture between the blade and the handle in order to protect the sword bearer's hand when thrusting. Because of the era of peace known as the "Pax Tokugawa" during the Edo period (1600-1868), tsuba became more ornamental than functional, and usually featured intricate designs and embellishments.