Hina Doll Furniture Dougu – Empress’s Koshi (Palanquin)

These accessories are called dougu in Japanese and include ceremonial items such as trays and offering stands as well as practical items such as furniture and tableware. High quality dougu are often very well made with fine craftsmanship and wood joinery and expert lacquerwork possibly decorated with   detailed maki-e finish.

During the Heian period, playing with dolls was called Hina-Asobi, and was very popular, not only among young girls, but also adult women of the nobility. The custom of displaying dolls takes center stage March 3rd, as Japan celebrates Girl’s Day with the Hina-Matsuri (doll festival), which is one of the largest period costume festivals in Japan. The centuries-old festival traces back to the Edo Period (1603-1867). This is the day families pray for the happiness and prosperity of their daughters, and to help ensure that they grow up healthy, beautiful, and married. The celebration takes place both inside the home and at the seashore. A girl’s first “Girl’s Day” is called her hatzu-zekku. On a girl’s hatzu-zekku it is very popular for the grandparents to buy her a display like the one pictured. This display can have up to seven tiers with dolls and small furniture and accessories. At the top is always the emperor and empress with a miniature gilded screen placed behind them, very much like how it is in the imperial court (see images). Most families take out this display around mid-February and put it away immediately after Hina Matsuri is over. There is a superstition that says that families slow to put away the dolls will have trouble marrying off their daughters!

All forms of miniature Japanese furniture were replicated, including the court carriage (Koshi) offered here and made during the Showa period (1920-1940). It is hand-crafted (roof is beautifully fashioned) and painted with delicate floral design throughout. Miniature scaled brocade fabrics, tassels, stepping stool, and ladder became part of the story and usually were displayed with Hina dolls and court figures as part of the furniture collection. This piece is made of wood and lacquered in black and gold. This piece is in excellent condition with no repairs, cracks or chips. Extremely fine detailing and condition. Dimensions: 7-0”L x 2-¾”w x 3-½”h.

Note: The Hina doll furniture pieces that were made in Kyoto were called Kyo-bina, and were considered to be the highest quality in Japan.

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