Vintage Traditional Kokeshi Dolls
The world is drawn to the beauty and simplicity of these "Wooden Treasures of Japan" © (2005). The original, Traditional Kokeshi was created as early as 1600 to the 1800s, by the members of eleven families. Since the popularity of Kokeshi dolls spread all over Japan but specifically in the Tohoku region certain styles can be traced from the onsen they correspond to and the location where they were created.
In Miyagi alone, there are four styles — namely Naruko, Togatta, Yajirou, and Sakunami — that have their distinct designs and features. Fukushima has two styles, Nakanosawa and Tsuchiyu, both recognizable by their vivid red accents. Yamagata, on the other hand, has three styles — Hijori, Zao, and Yamagata — best known for their heavy floral designs. For Aomori, there’s the Tsugaru style, where the head and the body of the Kokeshi doll are made from the same type of wood and are often decorated with a drawing of a peony. Iwate’s Nanbu style was initially known for leaving the doll’s body bare to allow appreciation for the wood’s natural grain. However, painted designs were adapted over time. And lastly, Akita, produced the Kijiyama style which is most recognizable for its striped kimono designs. However, some designs also feature floral patterns.
Each family developed different graphic patterns, face and hair details, and silhouettes all within a spherical head, and long torso, with no arms or legs. One important fact is that each family and their associated craftsmen required that their design could "never be changed throughout history," for their form was considered the result of a master's craft with a family motif to be honored. This prompted the "birth" of the Sosaku movement, which allowed for more creative liberties on the part of the contemporary artist/carver.