This vintage wooden doll is a beautiful example of excellent craftsmanship and artistic skills. She is signed underneath and is distinguishable by the tilt of her head and minimal artwork.
Since World War II, Japanese kokeshi dolls have become tremendously popular. Kokeshi dolls are characterized by their lack of arms and legs, as well as their brightly painted garb in floral designs and geometric patterns. The process used for making these cylindrical wooden dolls is not unlike that employed to make legs for chairs or tables.
It’s likely that kokeshi originated in rural Tohoku, in northeast Japan, during the Bunka-Bunsei eras (1804-29) of the Edo Period. The farmers there, coping with long, snowbound winter nights, probably made the dolls from scraps of maple, dogwood, or magnolia using a pulley lathe. These dolls were possibly intended as good luck talisman, designed to bring fertility or bountiful harvests. Later, they were sold to tourists at Tohoku spas, and also given to console mothers who had lost a child through miscarriage or other misfortune.
Eventually, the kokeshi—made in 5-, 7-, and 10-inch sizes—became a toy for childrens' play. It wasn’t until the 1920s that adults began to value these Japanese dolls as collector’s items. This renewed interest in kokeshi encouraged artisans to produce them in a much wider variety of sizes, from itty-bitty to huge.
When looking for an antique kokeshi doll, keep in mind the balance of the body—a good doll is not too top-heavy. Collectors also favour dolls with facial features applied with a calligraphy brush and an eye-pleasing balance of colour.
Diameter of base: 4.5cm.
Diameter of head: 6.5cm
Weight: 210 grams
This piece would look lovely displayed on your bookcase, sideboard, or children's bedroom. A gift that would stand the test of time.
Kimberley and Georgina xx