Japanese Kimono Boy Doll Nihon Ichimatsu Ningyo | 1940s

Early Ichimatsu Ningyo, (32-33″high), were only female dolls, and fall under the category of “Friendship Dolls”, primarily given as an exchange of dolls between children of both countries as a way to ease cultural tensions after the 1920s. A program was initiated to send dolls from the US to children in Japan, and the Japanese reciprocated with their own cultural icons. This is a rare male doll made around 1940 when both sexes were being made for a Western clientele.

This enchanting “Ichimatsu ningyo” or “Yamato ningyo”, doll was created in the 1930’s or early 1940’s. This endearing doll has a soft well-rounded face, an appealing gentle expression, and a sweet serene composure. He is beautifully detailed and proportioned in all his facial features, and has a flesh-colored complexion, painted hair, brown glass inset eyes, wide brush-stroked eyebrows, finely hand-painted lower eyelashes, and a pursed, soft smile. His arms are attached to his paper-wrapped torso with fabric, and his face, arms and legs have a rich gofun, (crushed oyster shell), finish over wood-substance composition. The fabrics in his clothing have been designed to the doll’s scale. His hand-stitched silk haori, which covers gold brocade hakama pants, is decorated with mon (family crests). His hakama is embroidered in various shades of green, brown/tan and ivory set against a beige background. The floral pattern is accented with blooming orange flowers. The piece has retained the original Hori-himo, (braided clasp), to secure the jacket, which allows parts of the hakama to remain visible. Tucked in his obi belt is a small fan. He is not wearing tabi socks, has painted toes, and is held upright on a black lacquer stand.

The characteristic child-like appeal has made Ichimatsu dolls very popular with western collectors, and the boy dolls are rarer than their female counterparts. Anyone who owns an Ichimatsu-ningyo understands the sense of “soul” created by the artist as he brought the doll to life. Symbolic of the past, they are also an artful expression of the unique beauty of Japanese childhood. It is rare to find Ichimatsu dolls of this quality; he is in perfect condition with all the appropriate and unique accessories, and on original black lacquer platform base. Dimensions: 7-0”w x 4-1/2”d x 14-1/2”h (incl. base).

Additional Information —
Mon is an encompassing term that refers to either kamon or mondokoro. which specifically are emblems used to identify a family. Mon may have originated as fabric patterns to be used on clothes in order to distinguish individuals, or to signify membership in a specific clan or organization. Japanese traditional formal attire generally displays the mon of the wearer. By the twelfth century, sources give a clear indication that heraldry had been implemented as a distinguishing feature, especially for use in battle. Occasionally, patron clans granted the use of their mon to their retainers as a reward. Similar to the granting of the patron’s surnames, this was considered a very high honor. Alternatively, the patron clan may have added elements of its mon to that of its retainer, or choose a completely different mon for them. There are no set rules in the design of a mon. Most consist of a roundel encircling a figure of plant, animal, man-made, natural, or celestial objects, all stylized to various degrees. Religious symbols, geometric shapes, and kanji were commonly used as well. Mon add formality to a kimono. A kimono or haori may have one, three or five mon. The mon themselves can be either formal or informal, depending on the formality of the clothing. Very formal kimono display more mon, frequently in a manner that makes them more conspicuous. In the dress of the ruling class, the mon could be found on both sides of the chest, on each sleeve, in the middle of the back, or all over the lining of the Haori, (jacket).

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