Vintage Seven Lucky Gods
Japanese Vintage Seven Lucky Gods Bobble Head Miniature Okimono
Descriptive qualities& condition:
Dimensions: 2-1/3”h to 3-0”h
Shown is a miniature set of the Seven Lucky Gods known in Japan as Shichi Fukujin, the 'Seven Gods of Good Fortune'. Adapted from various Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Shinto Gods and saints, they were grouped together in Japanese folklore around the 17th century. Each bobble head doll exemplifies this story, are hand-painted and fully intact with full details, along with all their charming props and tools of their trade. Artist/craftsman is unknown.
Vintage Condition: Excellent sense of proportion, “as is” original craft/workmanship. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear or structural damage noted.
NOTE: One of the many beliefs concerning the Seven Lucky Gods is that during the first three days of the New Year, they become sailors, and command a magic ship called takarabune, the treasure ship that sails from heaven into human ports. On the second evening of the New Year, it is the custom to place a picture of the seven gods beneath the pillow on the ship to induce a lucky dream. The lucky dream is a sign that the rest of the year will hold good fortune. The cargo that the ship carries is known as the "takaramono", or in Japanese literally “treasure things”.
Some of these items are unusual: the hat of invisibilty-kakuregasa, rolls of brocade-orimono, the inexhaustible purse-kanebukuro, the sacred keys of the treasure shed of the gods-kagi, the scrolls of books of wisdom and life-makimono, Daikoku’s magic mallet-kozuchi, the lucky raincoat-kakuremino, the robe of fairy feathers-hagoromo and Hotei’s bag of fortune-nunobukuro. Daikoku’s magic mallet has the quality of producing money when shaken or struck against an object, and Hotei’s cloth bag contains all the treasures needed by man, including food and drink. The lucky raincoat and the hat of invisibility allow whoever wears them to perform good deeds without being discovered, and the robe of fairy feathers enables the wearer the gift of flight. Even today, posters and pictures of the gods are still popularly believed to bring good luck, and in shops and restaurants, their statues remain a common sight.
The symbolic meanings and physical attributes of the Seven Lucky Gods vary slightly, depending where you are in Japan, but are roughly as follows:
Ebisu is a Shinto god, the patron of work, specifically tradesmen and fishermen, and is usually depicted wearing Japanese costume and headdress. He has a portly figure, large swollen earlobes, and he usually has a fishing rod in his right hand whilst in his left is a large, freshly-caught fish – a tai (sea bream, sea bass or dorado), itself a symbol of good luck. He is very popular in fishing villages, rice farms and local marketplaces. He is always smiling, and it is believed that he is deaf; failing to hear deities called together for his own celebration. Traditionally, Ebisu is celebrated in an annual feast held on the 20th of October.
Daikoku is associated with accomplishments of one’s goals and with wealth. Stone statues show a jovial bruiser with a sack over one shoulder, sitting on bales of rice and wielding a mallet with which he grants wishes.
Bishamonten is the god of happiness and war, is the patron of warriors and protector of the righteous. He is depicted in full Chinese armour and carrying a lance in his left hand. In his right hand he has a small pagoda building, which represents a treasury. Shiga, the temple city founded around the 6th century CE, was dedicated to the god in thanks after Shotoku Taishi won a battle at the site.
Benzaiten is the only one of the group who is female. She is the goddess of love and reasoning. She is usually depicted playing the biwa, a type of lute or guitar, and riding a dragon or sea-dragon to whom she is married, according to some traditions and, thereby, ended the dragon’s attacks on the island of Enoshima. Her special messenger is a white snake, and she is often associated with the sea, where many of the shrines dedicated to her are located. For Buddhists, she is the patron of wealth, literature, and music, and she is also the embodiment of femininity.
Fukurokuju signifies happiness (fuku), wealth (roku), and longevity (ju); he is, therefore, known as the god of wisdom and longevity. Traditionally, he is considered to have once been a mortal, and lived as Taoist sage and is commonly attributed the power of resurrecting the dead. He is depicted as short in height, but with a very high forehead, and is usually to be found in the company of a stork or crane.
Jurojin is a god of longevity and wisdom; he is usually represented with a stag at his side, and he carries a long stick to which is attached a scroll containing all the wisdom of the world. Like Fukurokuju, legend states that he once lived on earth as a Taoist sage. He is also represented as an old man with a white beard; but wears a scholar’s headdress.
Hotei represents thrift and philanthropy. He is portrayed as a fat, bald, and rather unkempt-looking Buddhist monk, with a big exposed belly and large swollen earlobes. However, always chuckling and often surrounded by children, he is perhaps the happiest looking of the seven gods and lives up to his Chinese nickname as the “Laughing Buddha”.... Read more
One of the most beautiful pieces I have purchased in over 10 years
I recently purchased one of the most beautiful pieces I have purchased in over 10 years. The information you provided was excellent, the piece is in mint condition as advertised, with a subject matter I did not have in my collection.
Delightful and well written book
Just downloaded my ebook on Sosaku Kokeshi. Excellent and so excited to see that you transposed the hardbound version. Exceptional large color images with great descriptions and details. It is so nice to have a copy I can carry when touring and when I am on-line shopping for Kokeshi. Also nice not to have to pay for international shipping.
A great doll
As always, a carefully packed order arrived this morning. This Sosaku Kokeshi – Takeda, Nori Aki Kaze is a great doll. Her large attractive head and maple leaf pattern, along with the vibrant colour make this doll very intriguing. Another copy of your new book that I have ordered for my friend will be a great Christmas Present for him. Much appreciated. I have also enjoyed furthering my knowledge of Japanese Antiques and Collectibles through your website.
You did the subject justice
Vintage Kokeshi and its history is absolutely a topic thats close to my heart, so Im pleased that you wrote about it. Im also happy that you did the subject justice bringing the history of these creative artifacts to light. Not only do you know a great deal about it, you know the way to present the subject in a way that individuals will wish to read far more. Im so happy to know a person/site like you exists on the internet. I understand you are writing a book on Sosaku Kokeshi artists. That will be high on my list for there is nothing in English on the subject, and I am worried that the craftsmen and their creations will be lost as Japan becomes more western in attitude. Doomo arigato gozaimasu from Japan.
Truly opened my eyes
I recently purchased your book on Kokeshi and what a find after collecting for over 10 years with no information to base my purchases on. Now I have YOUR ILLUSTRATIVE BOOK and it has truly opened my eyes. All the associated stories and folk tales give such light to my collection. A curator at the Japanese American National Museum in LA told me about this great resource. Your book happens to be astonishingly precise although I can understand why someone else has not written a book on the subject, because all the artists producing Kokeshi remain obscure and little information available has not been translated. Your book truly did switch the light on for me personally as related to Japanese folk art.
Detailed textual information & beautiful photographs
We just received your new book, Sosaku Kokeshi: A New Look at an Old Tradition. Let us be the first to congratulate you on this superb follow-up to Kokeshi: Wooden Treasures of Japan. Your comprehensive text with its notes on the artists and the beautiful photography create a work that any collector of Kokeshi should have if they wish to develop an understanding of and knowledge about this Japanese folk art. We don’t know which is better (Does either have to be better?), the detailed textual information or the beautiful photographs. Both insist upon and rightfully demand spending time to enjoy and appreciate them. Thank you so much for adding to our appreciation of Kokeshi.
Another great Kokeshi book edition
Another great Kokeshi book edition. I was thrilled to see many of the Kokeshi in my collection in your book. I even found a few that I still had not been able to identify, it was nice to finally know the artisans behind my wonderful collection.
My kokeshi collection has become more focused and personal now that I am able to recognize which dolls I am truly drawn to
Whether you are a kokeshi doll collector like I am, or exploring Japanese folk art for the first time, Sosaku Kokeshi – A New Look at an Old Tradition is a wonderful, informative resource for collectors and a lovely visual introduction to Sosaku dolls. I just purchased a copy of the book, and I could not be more pleased! With its beautiful colour photographs, signatures and profiles of the artists along with titles of the dolls, it is a well-researched, comprehensive resource. While some dolls featured in the book were familiar to me, I was also introduced to artists and dolls that I have never seen or heard of before.
These two books have helped me to learn so much more about kokeshi dolls, and influence my thoughts on the process of doll selection. My kokeshi collection has become more focused and personal now that I am able to recognize which dolls I am truly drawn to. These two books have become an extension of and just as much a part of my collection as the dolls that sit on my shelves.
The artwork on each doll is literally like a unique painting historically recording the Japanese culture. Thank you for your fine work and this educational experience.
After we purchased the first one, we fell irresistibly in love
We started collecting Kokeshi only a short time ago with the expert guidance of Michael and Robert. Beginning with a goal of three or four dolls for each of our granddaughters, we almost immediately changed our goal after we purchased the first one and fell irresistibly in love with this Japanese folk art.
We have amassed a small collection that we display proudly.
In spite of our limited background and only a little research to support our evaluation, Sosaku Kokeshi: A New Look at an Old Tradition is a magnificent work on the subject of these wooden dolls which make up a segment of the folk arts of Japan. The detailed background materials on the artists and the notes on the dolls can be an invaluable part of one’s collection. The marvelous photography is an excellent complement to the text, as we re-viewed the images many times, envying the owner of each doll.
I love my new jewelry box!!
Just want to say MAHALO — love my new jewelry box!! I wanted this tobacco box to hold my modest collection of jewelry. I tend to march to the beat of a different drummer most of the time, and I often repurpose items. When I saw this lovely Japanese box you were selling, I thought “bingo!” — perfect!! So, many thanks… and I hope to occasionally purchase an item now and then now that I know about you!
Delightful Kokeshi book
I received your delightful Kokeshi book, and I am very grateful to have discovered this beautiful publication. The photographs are singular elegant portraits. It is wonderful you have included the calligraphy kanji signature of the craftsman, as important as the beautiful painted dolls. Your book gives provenance to my small treasured collection and a guide in my search for more. Exciting to also discover a few of mine already in your book. Many thanks again for gifting this special kokeshi edition and I hope to continue to share the joy.
Oh my goodness! She has arrived and she is divine!
She was beautifully packed and arrived safe and sound. She is so gorgeous and I thank you so much for all that you have done along the way. You provide such a professional yet also personable business and it was a delight dealing with you.
Thank you for bringing such gorgeous items to our attention – these Kokeshis are ‘works of art’ and we are lucky to be able to purchase them and bring them into our lives and homes.
I had to send you a photo of her with her new family and I have to say, as you predicted, she fits in beautifully.
I shall keep an eye on your website for further ‘treasures’.
Mingei Arts can't be beat!
Thank you for your attention and guidance to a new mingei collector. Both your publication and mingei are outstanding, your packing is perfect and shipping prompt.
Got the vase over the weekend. Somehow this medium really speaks to me, at least the objects where most everything is in different shades of brown. Very appealing. Yes, too bad I missed out on the ginger jars you had for sale. Ah well, it’s all OK in the universe. And what clever use of materials for safe packing!
Shopping through the items in this store is like treasure hunting, without the hunting.
I have several items from Robert & Michael’s collection now and they all hold a special place in my home and warm my heart when I see them. Something about the art from Japan just makes me feel at peace and also comforted.
I could not be happier with my three new Kokeshi
Your time and personal attention was gratefully appreciated. I could not be happier with my three new Kokeshi – I have them displayed where I pass by often so I can stop and look at them – they always bring a smile to my face! They make me HAPPY! I also love your book and eBook. Thank you so much!
Opened my eyes to the diversity and beauty of an amazing art form
It wasn’t until I got your book that I realized what I had been missing these past years! Now I am totally addicted.
Great spinning top
I purchased a vintage spinning top for a gift, and I absolutely love it! The ordering process was fast and easy, and the item was in the condition described on the website.
Thank you for sending this book to me
It is beautiful, so informative and stunning pictures. Well done to you both for producing this. Any wonder so many people around the world love it. I will love using it as my reference book. You have both been so lovely to deal with……I look to you both as experts in all things Kokeshi and Japanese art, and look forward to our continued friendship across the world.