Antique Sosaku Kokeshi Depicting Samurai Exiles


Dimensions: 5-0” - 5-1/2” h

This is a very esoteric subject for Kokeshi and intended likely to be understood by only a small number of people with specialized knowledge or interest in the history of the Samurai. 

The two Kokeshi dolls offered to portray the Hannin as depicted by an unknown Kokeshi craftsman, whose ancestors probably were or knew imprisoned Samuari on the island. “Bushido” the way of the warrior, represents by the Samurai’s code and culture has played a pivotal role in shaping Japanese culture and hence such an unusual subject to be depicted by a Kokeshi artist. The names of the incarcerated Samuari are on each doll (Hideie Ukita and Tametomo Minamoto), which substantiates knowledge of the identities of these two individuals. There is no artist signature on the pieces but that could be because of the early age of these dolls when signatures were not warranted. Both pieces are an exceptional artifact for the Kokeshi or collector of historical or Samuari memorabilia.

Antique Condition: Excellent and beautiful detailed line drawing. “As is” with some scattered light wear or stain that does not affect the design, and retains the original craft/workmanship. No discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear, or structural damage. 

NOTE: Hachijo-Jia, the second largest of the Izu islands, is known for its role during the Edo period as the home of Hannin (exiled samurai, political dissidents, and criminals). Separated from the mainland by a treacherous current called kuroshio (black current), Hachijo-jima was the ideal place for the banishment of what was considered during the Edo period to be unsavory elements of society. 

The Samurai originated in the Heian period dating back to 710 and in particular campaigns to subdue the native Emirishi in the Tohuku region of the northern part of Honshu. The Samurai followed a set of Confucian influenced rules that came to be known as bushido - literally 'the way of the warrior'. The way the warrior valued a life of self-discipline, respectfulness, and ethical behavior but also set ideals in honor, reckless bravery, selflessness, and duty to the warrior’s master (daimyo) to the point of giving up their lives and embracing death.

Even though samurai no longer exist, the influence of this military class is still felt and their heritage can be seen all over Japan through castles, carefully planned gardens, or preserved samurai residences – most of all it is ingrained in the psyche of the Japanese people.