Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi

Sosaku Kokeshi Entitled: “WA” - PEACE by Shido Shouzan | 1965

Shido Shouzan



Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 18-0”h

This is an exceptionally unusual Kokeshi celebrating PEACE and was created just after the  Beatles had their first performance in Japan in 1965. The Peace movement began in the 1960s in the United States and was one of the most tumultuous and divisive decades in U.S. history. Being encouraged by what was happening in the United States, the Japanese peace movement, (known as the Anpo Struggle), was initiated a few years earlier also recognizing the “generation gap” that exists to this day.

As noted, "Peace and “Hipster” artifacts are a potential goldmine and are considered similar to vintage clothes, political and protest buttons, rock posters, records, and books, to name a few. One advantage for a new collector is that the market is not yet established for many of these items, so they are still being found in basements and Japanese earthen storehouses, (known as dozō, or more specifically called, Kura, which has white plaster walls, designed to be fireproof and insulated with mud), built next to Japanese homes protecting their valuables and waiting to be appreciated for their historical significance.

Many musicians and artists became part of the movement, and it was unusual to see protests showing up in the form of Japanese Kokeshi. This wonderful large doll is in bright yellow lacquer, which was traditionally used to paint the ground of the body, but here is emphasized as a statement color. The expressive face, with single eyelids, is framed by a traditional hair decoration illustrating bangs and hair fringes. This is basically a plain doll with beveled shoulders, with the only body decoration being PEACE written in kanji, and signed by the artist on one side of the figure.

Antique Condition: Good, displayable condition showing visible wear and repair on parts of the figure with cracking and loss of lacquer particularly on the top of the head and base (see image #2), and prior to 1980, when the doll was purchased. Based upon recommendations from our conservator, and even though it shows visible repair, the piece shows historical significance, and it should be left as found, so as not inadvertently destroy its value which represents this tumultuous period and aging.

Artisan | Woodworker: Shido, Shouzan | 1932-1995


Shido-san is considered by Kokeshi collectors and critics alike to be arguably the most influential artist in the world of Sosaku Kokeshi doll making. Shido-san’s main focus was depicting unadorned Northern girls in the traditional “Mino”, or Snow Coat, but he also produced tall, thin dolls, which were sparsely decorated. His keen sense of design, minimal use of color, and simple elegant shapes set him apart from his peers, making him one of the most collectible artists emerging from the creative period of the ‘60s. He is a winner of the Prime Minister’s Award, among many other awards.

Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles:

Shido-san loved studying the use of combining different types of wood to gain the desired effect and to give dimension to his pieces. He also enjoyed creating slender, tall dolls to support the fact that they resemble the tall, thin trees seen throughout Japan. He incorporated a repetitive textural pattern called ‘Harmonic Chatter work’ to enhance the natural qualities of the wood on many of his works.

Shido-san particularly enjoyed the textural qualities of ‘Chattering’ on the rain/snow coat, (Minomushi), which is a favorite theme, executed with minimal painted ornamentation, with an emphasis on the natural wood. In general, it is said the Japanese culture is one of modesty and humility. Occasionally we see different types of headdress, one of which he called a ‘Tsunokakushi’, which is a wide headresses or hood, which covered elaborate hairstyles. We are told that the Japanese people regulate their behavior and response by reading faces and the eyes of others. Here, as well as elsewhere, you will see many examples of different characteristics of the eye is expressions. His most famous doll was called “mai”, a dancer, which was an elegant and slender doll created in 1970. This doll exhibited traditional hair design with an emphasis on a brightly colored “obi” which brings forth the best use of complex geometry to create traditional Japanese clothing elements.

Shido-san was a prolific artist/woodworker of Kokeshi dolls. We additionally see unusual subjects focused on Zen Buddhism and figures of Daruma, (Bodhidharma) of which most were made in a “roly-poly” type figure seen throughout festivals in Japan.

Artist's Signature: