Traditional Vintage, Rare Tsugaru-Kei (‘Nuruyu’) Kokeshi by Moriharu, Kitayama
Moriharu-san, (1947-) studied under master Yamatani, Kiyo where his pieces were originally sold at the Nuruyu Spa, Aomori prefecture, and is considered a rare strain of the Tsugaru family of dolls. Tsugaru artists were creating dolls for collectors, rather than staying within the boundaries of the original, typical Kokeshi, which were made as toys.
As seen in this beautiful doll, she has an undulating body and is made of one piece of wood with only one joinery element attaching the ‘bobble’ head to the body. The only decoration on the body is the Rokoru moyo varied circular banding in red, green, and purple. She has a round head and displays a more modern hairstyle painted in solid black, with a natural base wood color circle in the center and stylized trimming of the hair. Her eyes are extremely painterly and expressive, with a marubana, (round nose) and red-painted cheeks. The doll is signed and named on the bottom by the artist.
See additional writings on our website related to this subject: Under our Browse and Learn section, please refer to https://mingeiarts.com/collections/tsugaru-kei-family for full details on the history of this family of dolls.
Condition: This rare piece has no stains or imperfections and considered in excellent original condition, and retains the original craft/workmanship showing a wonderfully developed, untouched patina commensurate with age. This Kokeshi meets all the standards of Tsugaru Family Kokeshi collectibles.
Tsugaru is the newest of the ten traditional kokeshi. Tsugaru has a great deal of variety in the shape and pattern of the doll. The youngest of all the strains of dento kokeshi, Tsugaru-kei developed after adults took an interest in buying more kokeshi as souvenirs from trips to the hot-spring resorts. Tsugaru dolls, which originated in the Aomori Prefecture in the region of the same name, are sometimes also known as Nuruyu dolls, originally fabricated by Hidetaro Mori and which made their appearance at Nuruyu ("lukewarm") Onsen, in the city of Kuroishi.
Collector's note – characteristics/painting style:
One of the distinguishing features of this doll is that it has hair in a bob or a chignon, (topknot), without much decoration on the head, though the hair is painted solid black, brush strokes are visible on the edges of the bangs and hair. White Iris, Peony, Camellia, and Daruma dominate as body decoration, along with stripes, (Rokuro Moyo), at the top, center, or bottom of the doll. One can easily recognize a Tsugaru doll because many will have the face of Daruma painted on the lower half of the body. Also, the flowers painted on the doll look quite realistic; the short history of the strain may not yet have given it enough time to patronize. Dolls that have round chests, thin waists, and cone-shaped lower bodies on which human faces are painted will strike you as quite unusual and interesting.
NOTE: the pair of images on the right representing Daruma, was created by Sato, Zenji, (b.1925), in which he drew “feet” on the bottom side with his signature, and the figure on the right is signed by his mentor and master, Mori, Hidetori, (b1895). Most of the faces are taken from the pictures decorating huge floats used for a summer festival in Aomori and Hirosaki.
Obo, Muchihide, 1950
Hasegawa, Kenzo, 1942
Kojima, Toshiyuki, 1949
Kon, Akira, 1953
Mamiya, Masao, 1921
Mori, Hidetaro, 1955
Sato, Yoshiki, 1949