Traditional Rare Vintage ‘Nuruyu’-Style Tsugaru-Kei Kokeshi by Sato, Zenji
Sato-san, (1925-1985), studied under master Mori, Hidetaro of the Owani prefecture, and created what is referred to as a ‘Tabe Style’ Kokeshi.
Nuruyu dolls made their appearance at the Nuruyu Onsen, in the city of Kuroishi and are considered a rare strain of the Tsugaru family of dolls. In the early Taisho period, after restrictions placed by the ruling feudal lords were lifted, the body shapes of Tsugaru dolls began to vary considerably with each artist. Tsugaru artists were creating dolls for collectors, rather than staying within the boundaries of the original, typical Kokeshi, which were made as souvenir toys.
The youngest of all the Kokeshi families, the Nuruyu doll, with her wasp-like figure, is the most commonly seen type of this family. However, this doll shows an extremely tapered body and is made of one piece of wood, with no joinery involved, turned on the lathe. The only decoration on the body is the Rokoru moyo varied circular banding in red, blue, and purple. She displays a more modern helmet-style haircut, which is painted in solid black, with an unpainted circle in the center. Her face is very serious expression with a marubana, (round nose) and extremely red cheeks. An exceptional collector’s piece because of the atypical treatment throughout the doll. She is signed by the artist.
Condition: Excellent, original condition, with no fading or loss of color and consistent with age and standards of collectible Folk Art. All details are perfect and as crafted.
Tsuchiyu Family dolls originated in the 1840s at Tsuchiyu Onsen in Fukushima Prefecture, with the work of Sakuma Kamegoro, a kiji-shi who had made various wood items for visitors to the Tsuchiyu Onsen.
Collector's note – characteristics / painting style:
These dolls come in two types: one with a slightly cone-shaped body widening towards the base; and one that has a columnar body, tapering where the neck would be. The latter style is also known for the Rokuro Moyo style of circular painting. As a matter of fact, the artists of this type are famous for being the most accomplished in the circular style of painting, as they take it several steps further by either reversing the line at some point or by zig-zagging the lines periodically. Both add a dynamic element to the dolls.
The design of black, (occasionally purple or green), concentric circles on the top of the head are called Janome. Together with a red bow and a loop on the head, (kase), is one major characteristic of the Tsuchiyu Kokeshi. The innermost circle of the head is usually colorless. The patterns of the body used to be simple black lines but the lines are drawn in different colors in later models. Some dolls even have patterns of flowers between the lines. Most have eyes called futae-mabuta, (double lid), and noses called marubana, (round nose), and tare-bana, (long nose). A few dolls have consciously large eyes and noses with blushes around the eyes, similar to the Nakanosawa group).
The Tsuchiyu kiji-ya utilized snap-on and squeeze-in techniques for attaching the heads, which are then painted with a Janome pattern, leaving the center open. This is known as the ‘snake eye design, and is also commonly seen on the tops of the paper and lacquered umbrellas, (Kasa).
Saito Chushichi, b. 1917
Saito Sashima, Master
Obata Toshio, b. 1932
Obata Fukumatsu, Master
Jinohara Kouki, b. 1957
Jinohara Kazunori, b.1929
Saito Hiromichi, Master
Kamegoro Sakuma, Grand Master