Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi

"O sage | Pigtails"

Ishihara, Hideo


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 13-1/2" h

This is a rare, early doll, wonderfully expressive which celebrates youth and depicting a girl with pigtails. Her Kimono has an overall motif in red, grey and black representing the sunset. Ishihara’s “pigtail” series began early in his Sosaku career when he did a series of Kokeshi with this theme, all published in a small out of print exhibition catalog, (1960s), and published by the Japan Society of New York in cooperation wit JETRO, the Japan External Trade Organization. The piece is unsigned and was created prior to Ishihara becoming established as a Sosaku artist. 

Vintage Condition: Good considering its age and rarity, “as is” with the body showing surface wear and slight discoloration, two splits in the wood, (see images with this listing), with no structural damage shown. The piece was gently repaired because of its rarity and interest in preserving a notable creation, and retains the original craft/workmanship. If you are a collector of Ishihara you will be interested in this piece, from the beginning of his Sosaku production, to round out a collection of his unique dolls.

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: