Vintage Japanese Temari Ball

Vintage Japanese Folk Art - Temari Ball | Japanese Kimekomi Ball with Geometric Motif


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 4-1/2” diameter

Temari is a Japanese symbol of perfection and covers a span of almost 1400 years. It is a gift given in joy and happiness. It is sometimes called a “mother’s love ball” by older Japanese. Children traditionally received a shimmering, gold threaded temari balls from their parents on New Year’s Day which were considered highly valued and cherished gifts symbolizing love, deep friendship and loyalty. Over time these balls went from toys to objet d’art.

Shown is an early and rare Kimekomi fabricated temari which is a technique where a pattern is drawn and then cut onto a firm core. In this case antique kimono fabric is then placed over the pattern and tucked into the cuts. This unique temari utilizing a multitude of colored silk of pink, blue, purple with a patterned kimono fabric outlined with gold thread to create a band visually separating two sides creating a multitude of textures and repeated pattern in a geometric motif. It has a flower burst ornamental tie at the top of the piece. Kimekomi was developed in the 18th century in Japan as a temari and doll making technique. Kimekomi literally means “to tuck into a groove”. 

Vintage Condition: Great to exceptional. “As is”, and retains the original craft/workmanship and fully intact, no thread breakage or missing elements. Any discoloration, surface wear or structural damage noted. 

NOTE: Temari were initially used, (1800-1950), as a soft toy for Otedama, (Juggling). As time passed the traditional Temari ball became an art and craft of the Japanese upper class, and noble women competed in creating more and more beautiful and intricate balls and judged by the most intricate, opulent, brightest or most subtle use of color. 

Later pieces, (typically around 5-0” dia.), were surfaced with remnants of old, high quality kimono fabrics elaborately embroidered. Patterns seen in Temari are often geometric and usually symmetrical. Designs are formed either by their own patterns, or by the "negative (or white)" space image that is left once the pattern is stitched. Colors were carefully separated and applied to the surface by wrapping directionally to illustrate embroidery techniques and patterns. The more collectable pieces had an inner core of fabric, wadded up to form a ball, then wrapped with strips of silk fabric, then stitched the ball firmly together, (it is said that the balls were wrapped and stitched so tightly that they actually did bounce).  Alternately, some balls contained "noisemakers" consisting of rice grains or bells to add to the play value particularly during the  holidays. 

Most Temari average three to five inches in diameter, although any size is possible, and all sizes and styles are treasured and most popular in Japan. Excessively large Temari, (12-0” dia.), with tassels were considered presentation balls and usually illustrates a large dragonfly knot and foot long tassels. These Temari were made throughout Japan and often given as a formal commemorative gift, given on a notable occasions.

Our customers have recommend two books for those who are interested in temari. Temari from different parts of Japan (Zoku Kyodo no Temari) by Chiyoko Ozaki, Macaw publishing,1990, (ISBN: 9784837709909), which is a 145 page illustrative publication in an unusual square format. The introductory pages have colour photos of antique and vintage temari and later pages with intensely summarized information. There is additionally a good range of intermediate and advanced-level designs.

The second recommended publication is entitled: Temara: The Geometric Shapes and Needlework, (with English translation), (ISBN: 13: 978-4863381803), and focuses on the Japanese traditional culture which emerged in the twelfth century. "Temari" which is now widely used abroad as well as production technology that produces the beauty of the geometric pattern. It also introduces a number of documents, including its history, which was introduced and became loved by an international audience.