Dr John Lissenden

Dr John Lissenden qualified in Medicine from Guy’s Hospital in 1958 and, after further studies in Dublin, spent five years in the Royal Naval Medical Service. Following his retirement from 35 years of General Practice in the Channel Islands, he was able to pursue his continuing interest in Japanese sword fittings by carrying out research on the Namban group of tsuba in the Department of East Asian Studies of Durham University, from 1999 to 2001.

The author has had a long interest in nihon-t?, first stimulated in 1945 when his father returned from Burma with a Japanese sword. However, his main interest lies now in kod?gu, his own considerable collection being augmented in 1973, when the artefacts and library of the late WA Young ? accumulated between 1931 and Young’s death in 1955 ? were ceded to him by the collector’s daughter-in-law.

Dr Lissenden is a member of both the To-Ken Society of Great Britain and the Northern Token Society (UK). He has had numerous articles on tsuba published, and has also read papers before the Northern Token Society.

Titles Available from Dr John Lissenden



Prior to their redefinition by Ogawa in 1987, the Namban group of tsuba had received scant attention from scholars. In part, this had been due to the lack of a clearly defined categorisation, making systematic attribution of the group difficult and thus preventing coherent study of the corpus as a whole. Dr John Lissenden uses this redefinition as the starting point in his accessible, creative and thoroughly researched study of Namban tsuba, for which he was awarded the degree of Master of Arts in East Asian Studies by the University of Durham in 2002.

The author has made good use of the research that has been previously done by European and Japanese students, but has also been originally critical of some of the established scholarship. This approach has allowed him to present interpretations of Namban tsuba that are indeed new. Among collectors and curators, some aspects of this study will be debated ? even contested ? but the clarity of the author’s position will cause them to reconsider some of their originally held beliefs.

Collectors also will value this study because it presents an innovative categorisation of this previously neglected group of sword guards, and serves to clarify the diversity and relationships of the Namban style. Including, as it does, expositions on both gilding and casting as related to this group of tsuba, the author’s reappraisal also uses the data on sword furniture as a new source of insight and information on historical developments in East Asia during the 16th to 18th centuries.

Prior to their redefinition by Ogawa in 1987, the Namban group of tsuba had received scant attention from scholars. In part, this had been due to the lack of a clearly defined categorisation, making systematic attribution of the group difficult and thus preventing coherent study of the corpus as a whole. Dr John Lissenden uses this redefinition as the starting point in his accessible, creative and thoroughly researched study of Namban tsuba, for which he was awarded the degree of Master of Arts in East Asian Studies by the University of Durham in 2002.
Prior to their redefinition by Ogawa in 1987, the Namban group of tsuba had received scant attention from scholars. In part, this had been due to the lack of a clearly defined categorisation, making systematic attribution of the group difficult and thus preventing coherent study of the corpus as a whole. Dr John Lissenden uses this redefinition as the starting point in his accessible, creative and thoroughly researched study of Namban tsuba, for which he was awarded the degree of Master of Arts in East Asian Studies by the University of Durham in 2002.
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