Vintage Traditional Kokeshi

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


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 12”h

This is traditional Kina Kina Kokeshi of the Nambu-kei family by Jitsutaro, Suzumago (b1908-1984). This doll was styled after what might well be considered the original Kokeshi as it is said they were always unpainted and modeled after a smaller version of the baby’s pacifier or ‘teething’ doll called Kikuriboko, or "Child of Wood.". As in every case the wood has a very smooth surface and no ornamentation to facilitate its’ purpose. The larger version of course was not a teething doll but was modeled after the same body form. The Kokeshi has the standard “nodder” head that is snapped-on to the body so that they would turn and wobble. With no decoration other than a refined form and a suggestion of an obi on the body. The piece is signed on the base.

Condition: Excellent vintage condition and as originally made. Beautiful polished patina developed from age with no flaws. The doll has been published in A Collectors Guide: Traditional and Creative Kokeshi and Toys. 

NOTE: Under our Browse and Learn section, please refer to Browse by Family, Nambu/Kina-Kiina-Kei Family for full details on the history and development of this style doll.

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