Minamoto no Yorimasa (1106-1180) was a poet and distinguished warrior who held a promising position at court. Legend states that in 1153, he was called to the aid of the emperor who was unable to sleep at night because of scratching and shrieks coming from the roof of the palace. Guards were posted around the building to find the cause of the noise but all they were able to see was a black cloud descending to the roof every night. Yorimasa solved the mystery by shooting with an arrow a beast called a nue, a curious mix of a monkey, tiger and dragon, with a tail like a snake.
The second tsuba in this lot was acquired by the museum in 1946 from the estate of Robert Hamilton Rucker, a founding member of the Arms and Armor Club of New York. He was also the author of the Goda Collection catalogue (see lot 250.)