Vintage Traditional Kokeshi

Vintage Nambu/Kina-Kina Traditional Kokeshi by Jitsutaro, Suzumago


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 9-1/2” h

This Nambu kokeshi is a plain wooden doll, and originally was used as pacifiers. This kokeshi has a comparatively small head that “bobbles or sways”, and moves freely via an attached joint/stem. Many of these pieces show diversity in the body shapes. This particular doll has a simulated obi sash incorporated into the solid wood carving. The piece is signed by the artist.

Vintage Condition: Excellent, (“as is”) and retains the original craft/workmanship free from the effects of aging, other than showing a wonderfully-developed patina and commensurate with age. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear, or structural damage is noted. 

Japanese Traditional Kokeshi | Nambu/Kina-Kina-Kei (Family)

Prefecture: Awata


This family of traditional dolls might well be considered the original Kokeshi, as it is said they were modeled after a baby’s pacifier. They originated in the cities of Hanamaki and Morioka, and the Yumoto Onsen in Awate Prefecture. Several shapes of kina-kina continue to be made now in somewhat larger sizes. These have been called Kikuriboko, or, "Child of Wood."

Collector's note – characteristics / painting style:

They started as unpainted ‘teething’ dolls, and the wood would have a very smooth surface. These unpainted versions are called Kina-Kina, and most would have movable heads, similar to the modern “nodders”. The head would be of the snap-on type, attached loosely so that it would turn and wobble. At one point, some Nanbu artists, influenced by the popularity of Narugo and Tougatta dolls, began painting the plain Nanbu-kei with stylized chrysanthemums. These decorated dolls were then called Hanamaki dolls with bangs, side fringes, double eyelids, and cat or round noses. Though these basically plain dolls are not as decorative as others of the traditional school, their unique, flowing forms are stronger visually because of their inherent elegance.

Notable artists:

Susumago Jitsutaro
Matsuda Shouichi
Matsuda Seichi
Matsuda Tokujiro (trained by Mokichi Susumago)
Susumago Mokichi, Grand Master