Vintage Japanese Clown Kokeshi Toy with Spinning Top by Tsuta, Mamoru (1928-2009)


Dimensions: 11-1/2”h x 5-3/4” x 4-0”d

Offered is an unusual, old, and rare Kijigangu by the elder Brother within the Tsuta Family of toy makers depicting the main character of the four-frame manga “Shochan’s Adventure” which was an act that continued throughout the Taisho era having been established in 1923. Mamoru’s father created the first Kokeshi toy of this type which was carried on throughout the family's making business. Japanese toy makers changed the stagnant fixed toy with their amazing interactive and mechanical toys representing three-dimensional images of all aspects of everyday life.

Seen is a toy that depicts an equilibrist, a funny and entertaining clown during this period which was one of several such lathe-turned wooden toys and tops that the family produced and inspired by Kokeshi craftsmen throughout Northern Japan. The most fascinating aspect is the head and face of the clown which is fixed and does not move, very expressionistic with wide, engaging eyes, large ears, a happy smile, and red cheeks. He is lying on his back both juggling balls and three spinning tops on a long pointed poll. The challenge of this toy is to be able to balance all three tops of which the largest is the most difficult challenge for it takes extreme balance skills to spin it before it falls off the poll. Additionally, his arms and feet move freely and are attached with dowels. It is a colorful toy utilizing red and green to give it life. The piece was signed by the artist and was done so because these pieces were sold as a souvenirs to bring home to their children. During this time frame, craftsmen began to sign both Kokeshi dolls and Toys because many of them began to be exported. Fumio, son of Mamoru continues to produce and sell smaller versions using wood as well as other materials inspired by the older Tsuta family craftsmen.  

NOTE: The pigments used in this doll's creation are not colorfast, so colors may fade if brought into contact with water. The entire figure should be handled carefully at all times as it has been by the previous owner who treasured the works of the Tsuta family.

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Condition: Excellent meaning the piece is perfect, totally original, and complete and functions as intended. No cracks, no breaks, no missing pieces, and it retains its wonderful presence which suggests a degree of color variation that corresponds to its vintage. The artifact meets all the standards of the collectible Vintage Kokeshi toys and without question a unique treasure for the Japanophile.