Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi

RARE Articulated Sosaku Kokeshi Toy by Ishihara, Hideo

Ishihara, Hideo



Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: Larger - 7-0”h x 4-0”w x 2-0”d; Smaller - 4-1/2”h x 3-1/2”w x 1-1/2”d

This group represents two siblings and a pair of wonderful Kokeshi that are articulated dolls with fully moveable arms for which the dowel joint allows a back and forth dependent motion of the arms. As shown, Ishihara incorporates hand painted chrysanthemums on the Yukata of the larger, girl doll, and dragonflies, (Tonbo) on the figure of the little boy. Each show a minimal decoration on the head, with the hair painted solid black with brush strokes visible on the edges of the simple hairstyles, (girl with “bangs” and the boy with a small sweep of hair falling down the expressive sumi-e’ drawn faces. The hands and ears shown as simple abstract knobs. Each are finished with a simple wax coating to bring attention to the natural wood. Both dolls being sold as a pair, and as originally intended are only signed the bottom of the larger of the two dolls.

Condition: Excellent pre-owned condition, consistent with age and standards of collectable art. Moveable parts work as crafted with no missing elements.

Note: Dragonflies are symbols of courage, strength, and happiness. The Chrysanthemum symbolize happiness, purity and truth, and represents the flower of a November child.

Artisan | Woodworker: Ishihara, Hideo | 1925 - 1999


Ishihara-san, a highly influential Sosaku Kokeshi artist, was born in Tokyo, and began his career by making Traditional Narugo dolls in 1957. His grandfather was the very famous artist Onuma Iwatao, of Narugo Onsen, Miyagi. After graduation from University, Ishihara-san was under medical care for more than ten years, during which time he studied painting. Upon recovering from his illness, he began making Sosaku Kokeshi, and in a ten- year period (1959-1969), he received more than 60 awards, including the highest honor, the Prime Minister’s Award.

Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles:

Ishihara-san’s dolls are based on many motifs, both found in nature and in textile design. He loves portraying both young and old characters with differing hairstyles, (traditional and 1950s era). He illustrates numerous kimono styles in both painted form and carving, and utilizes simple graphic treatment to emphasize the strong character of his dolls, which bring out the true nature of the wood materials through manipulation of the turned and carved wood. His dolls are always finished in a simple wax coating. It is also not unusual to see him utilize sumi-e’ drawing of faces which have both the ‘one-stroke eye’, (Hitofude-me), as well as as a variation of traditional doll eye treatments.

Artist's signature: