Vintage Traditional Kokeshi by Sato Masahiro | Ejiko Style | Togatta Strain

Just south of Sendai is one of several towns known as the birthplace of Kokeshi: the village of Togatta. Spread throughout the village are the descendants of the craftsmen who originated the Togatta-style Kokeshi. All Togatta have a red, radial design on top of the head, but what is interesting about this particular Togatta Ejiko is that it has red radial flower patterns painted on the natural wood and is a very rare example. This type of ornamentation, utilizing the chrysanthemum motif on its head, is called, tegara. The flowers on the head and body are typically arranged on top of another as shown, though plum or cherry blossoms are sometimes seen. Togatta dolls have expressive eyes, and in most cases, they are long, narrow, and crescent shaped, matching their upper and lower eyelids. Another recognizable feature of the Togatta doll is its nose, which is shaped like two vertical pine needles, and always small (neko-bana).

Most Ejiko dolls are short and ball-shaped, as opposed to the standard tall, slim body of Togatta dolls. The most unusual feature of this Ejiko piece is that it was made as a container to hold toys. This basic design is based on the Izume-ko, a basket babies were placed in, surrounded by their toys. This acted as a baby sitter while the parents worked in the fields. This Togatta Ejiko is unusual, in that the wood-grain patterns are emphasized, showing both the grain and natural patina of the aging natural wood. The doll is made of one piece of solid Pagoda wood (Enju). The head/cover matches the piece perfectly to give a nice fit, and is also from the original cutting. The interior of the piece is hollowed out to house miniature toys which in this doll are tops (koma).

This doll was made by Sato Masahiro, who was born in 1938, and is signed. Masahiro-san studied under the Togatta master Wagatsuma Kichisuke. As shown in the images, this doll comes with five (5) wooden, spinning tops. Each top has a finial or knob made of different woods. This Kokeshi toy container dates from the late 1960s. The condition can be seen in the photos, and noted under the images. Dimensions: 6-0”h x 5 ½” dia.

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