Traditional Vintage, Rare (Tsugaru-Kei) ‘Nuruyu’ Traditional Kokeshi by Sato, Zenji
The rarest element of this Kokeshi is that it has “feet” drawn on the bottom of the doll. One rarely sees this type of treatment, because it was considered rebellious by a traditional family of Kokeshi craftsmen. Sato-san, (1925-1985) studied under master Mori, Hidetaro spa, Aomori prefecture.
Nuruyu dolls made their appearance at the 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 place by the ruling feudal lords were lifted, 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 toys.
As seen in this doll, an extremely tapered body is used 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 and black. Her head is oval, or what was referred to as ‘egg’ shaped, and displays a more modern hairstyle: a topknot. The hair is painted in solid black with a red circle in the center. Her eyes are extremely painterly, with a marubana, (round nose). An exceptional collectors piece because of the atypical treatment throughout the doll. The doll 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.
Our antique/vintage pieces are identified/described and professionally photographed, and considered, “as is”, therefore all sales are final. Read our full refund and return policy.
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