Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi

Vintage Creative Kokeshi Wearing a Yukata

Unknown Artist


Age:Early 1960s

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 12-1/2”h

Yukata, a casual version of the Kimono has become an inspiring subject in all forms of art, and particularly in Kokeshi doll making. Kokeshi dolls have traditionally been sold at Japanese Ryokans/onsen’s which featured scenes on Kokeshi reminiscent of past centuries. This type of doll became very popular with Kokeshi woodcarvers because it was a type of souvenir that was purchased by the Japanese guest and taken home.

This rare, unusual and thin Kokeshi is styled based on the Edo period and made of dogwood. It portrays a woman wearing a vertical striped Yukata in grey and black, and incorporates a unique narrow red sash with bow and carved into the wood surface. Her head is looking downward with a simple expression given to the face with the use of small sleepy eyes and eyebows. On this particular Kokeshi, a hair style reminiscent of the past called a Taka-shimada illustrates the diverse and uniqueness of individual taste of the period. Artist unknown the piece is fully signed on the bottom. This doll was featured in A Collector’s Guide: Traditional and Creative Kokeshi and Toys.

Condition: Excellent, beautifully preserved doll, in original condition with no chipping, cracking or discoloration. .

NOTE: The name Yukata comes from the word ‘yu’, (bath), and ‘Katabira’, (under garment) made of cotton, linen or hemp. Yukata or bath clothes are worn after bathing in a communal bath, functioning as a quick way to cover the body and to absorb remaining moisture. This all began over 1,000 years ago when people wore it to-and-from the bath.  Yukata is a garment that the Japanese have invested a great deal of ingenuity in developing, as it is an ideal casual wear for bathing. It was specifically worn in the hot and humid summers as a cooling garment. Yukata typically show a range of motif from solid bright colors, large and small seasonal floral designs, kanji characters, fans, wave & sea designs, clouds, dragons and geometric designs.