Vintage Creative Kokeshi Wearing a Yukata
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.
He was born in Kanazawa prefecture in 1921 in a region known for its beautiful wooden marquetry crafts. Katase-san, the son of a Kijishi, (woodworker), won the first Prime Minister’s Award in 1954 at the ‘All Nippon Kokeshi Competition’. Along with many of his fellow Sosaku artists, Katase-san was a soldier and perhaps turned to creative Kokeshi-making to assuage the rigors of a long-fought war. Since 1962, he served as a judge at Kokeshi Contest in Japan. In 1955, his work was dedicated to Her Majesty the Empress, and in 1965, t His Majesty the Emperor. In 1970 he was awarded the holder of Excellent Technique and was named a member of Meiko-Kai. He went to the United States in 1973 to direct the overseas exhibition in St Louis and was introduced through a television program in Missouri State. He was a member o the Cultural Properties Protection Committee of Hakone Town and a member of the Nippon Kokeshi Artistic Handicraft Association.
Katase focuses on what is known as “one-off” dolls turned from one piece of wood and detailed throughout the figural form. They primarily illustrate the “new” styles of Japan of the 18th century when the Dutch East Indies Trading Company influenced Japanese everyday life and customs. Buddhist figures, which are intricately carved, are another style by this artist.
Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles:
In many dolls, he utilizes a hand-painted striping technique called Rokuro Moyo, and in several instances, he incorporates seasonal flowers into the kimono representation. The hair and clothing of his pieces are subtly textured with a lacquered finish.