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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Kokeshi


I am sure you must have seen these cute kokeshi dolls floating all over the internet.
My fascination for these dolls started when I first received those paper ones from my Japanese pen pal when I was in secondary school. I was smitten at the first sight of their kawaii-ness ( kawai means cute in Japanese).

According to Wikipedia:

“Kokeshi (こけし kokeshi), are Japanese dolls, originally from northern Japan. They are handmade from wood, have a simple trunk and an enlarged head with a few thin, painted lines to define the face. The body has a floral design painted in red, black, and sometimes yellow, and covered with a layer of wax. One characteristic of kokeshi dolls is their lack of arms or legs. The bottom is marked with the signature of the artist.”

Fun facts
  • The dolls may originally have had a spiritual significance with the kokeshi representing a wish for a healthy child.
  • It has also been suggested that kokeshi, with their round heads and limbless bodies probably made in an unpainted form originally, were used as massage tools by spa bathers.
  • Kokeshi are generally bought by Japanese as mementos. In addition to being ornamental, they are also seen as charms to prevent fires or even ward off evil. Mizuki, the wood often used to make the kokeshi doll's face, literally translates as "water tree". It is a very moist wood and some Japanese believe that having a kokeshi in their home helps prevent fire. A kokeshi doll, therefore, is considered a lucky charm and is often bought in the belief that she will protect a home against fire.
Kokeshi, celebrated today as one of Japan's folk arts, are of two types, traditional and creative.

Traditional kokeshi
image credit - http://www.japanya.co.uk/kokeshi.aspx
Traditional kokeshi, produced only in the six prefectures of Tohoku, are very simple in their design with round heads and cylindrical limbless bodies. The floral and linear patterns painted on their kimonos have been developed and passed down through generations of kokeshi makers and are distinctive to the area where they are made. The traditional kokeshi, shown in the picture here, come from Naruko.

Creative kokeshi

image credit - http://www.japanya.co.uk/kokeshi.aspx
Creative kokeshi, relatively new having only developed as an art form since the 2nd World War, retain the limbless kokeshi characteristic. However, they are more contemporary in their design with perhaps a more shapely body, added features such as hair, as well as colourful exquisitely patterned kimono. Creative kokeshi are 'created' by artists, and have features and styles unique to their own particular artist or creator. The majority of creative kokeshi are made in Gunma prefecture. The creative kokeshi, shown in the picture here, are a small selection of those sold by Japanya.

Kokeshi making regions of Japan

Source - http://www.japanya.co.uk/kokeshi.aspx

A video to share

19 comments:

mail4rosey said...

The dolls are cute! I don't think I've ever seen them, so I loved reading the history.

betty said...

These are so cute, Veronica, I had not seen them before. I enjoyed reading about them. Now I bet I will see them all over the place, LOL.

betty

alissa apel said...

Those are just so cute! I loved the history behind them to!

My husband is making a Native American doll for our kitchen. It's itty bitty. He made it out of wood, corn husk, feathers, and painted it.

Mrs.AOK said...

I've always adored these dolls, but had no idea what their name was, thank you! Just as I always called "Matryoshka" dolls "nesting dolls" for years, I can now call them by their proper name. Thanks for sharing!
XOXO

Hena Tayeb said...

so cute. i love when you share fun facts

Lin said...

Have never seen these! I'm sure I'm gonna see them everywhere now. Thanks for "coolin' me up!"

When are you coming to the states to see me, my friend?

Mama's High Strung said...

Thanks for stopping by my Website. I love these little dolls, too!

pixiedusk said...

I love cute stuff and Japan have so much prods that are soooooooo cute! Thanks for sharing this infos about the doll. Really informative =)

Dropping by from http://pixiedusk.livejournal.com/331092.html

Rhonda Gales said...

Thanks for linking up on Sunday's Best. The dolls are adorable. I enjoyed learning about their history. Thanks for sharing this great post.

Bernadyn said...

Adorable! I have a key chain of this doll, I didn't know what they were called. I love the history behind them, very interesting, thanks for sharing. Pinning this and sharing on my FB blog's page today. :)

fredamans said...

Cute little dolls.

Ruth Kelly said...

That is real art!

GettingSmarterMama said...

Thank you, Veronica! This is very interesting. We just became members of the Morikami museum - a Japanese Cultural Museum and Gardens in Delray Beach, FL - just last week was the first time I had seen these dolls and I bought a small set for my son, still not knowing anything about them! I feel smarter today.
Thank you!

Amanda M (@mommygorun) said...

These dolls are beautiful and the story is lovely! Your blog name is so clever!!! Hope your day is fantastic!

Amanda Kolb said...

I've always thought these dolls were so cute, but I never knew what they were called or the history behind them. Thank you for sharing with us at Merry Monday!

Audrey said...

Those cookies are adorable.

Thanks for the information on the dolls.

Rosemary Nickerson said...

The first photo made me think of your exquisite cookies. Loved the video and history lesson, Veronica! Well done.

Kimberly Lewis said...

Oh my! What a fun post. Pinned and tweeted. Thank you so much for being a part of our party. We really appreciate you! I hope to see you on tonight at 7 pm. Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls

Lizzy Allan said...

Your kokeshi dolls are so cute! There are so many interesting facets to Japanese culture, aren't there?

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