The tsuba or sword-guard, is one of several components that make up the Japanese sword. Socially it has been regarded as the soul of the samurai, not just as a defensive weapon. It has been invested with philosophical qualities and artistry, particularly in peaceful periods. Tsuba can be divided into two groups, those applied with soft metals or carved with pictorial decoration, and those pierced with an overall design, these are sukashi or pierced tsuba such as this one. Iron tsuba, pierced and carved with a Ho-o bird (phoenix) and sprays of paulownia leaves.