Vintage Japanese Sosaku Kokeshi entitled: “Akaume | Red Plum” by Takahashi, Hashime | 1918-2002
This doll is lathe-turned and from one piece of Elm, (Keyaki). The artist has used a branch of Plum, (Ume), with just one flowering branch to ornament this elegant doll and associated with the start of spring, because plum blossoms are some of the first blossoms to open during the year. Plum blossoms are a symbol of refinement, purity, and nobility, and also a reminder of past love.. This doll uses an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, an aspect of Japanese cultural tradition that is often associated with Buddhistic influence.
The facial details are understated while she exhibits elegance with peaceful eyes, which is a trademark for Hashime-san, a suggested mouth, with black bangs and side hair fringes framing her face. A low relief wide Obi is painted in metallic gold, so as not to detract from the simple blossom motif. The bottom of the doll bears the artist's signature, title, along with a tiny red stamp impression.
Condition: Excellent vintage condition and commensurate with age with no loss or fading of artwork/details. After the turning, carving, and painting, the doll is lacquered and sealed with a natural candle wax, (Rosoku no ro). A perfect doll for the collector of Japanese Kokeshi folk art.
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Originally a fine arts painter, Takahashi-san is from Sendai, (where Traditional Kokeshi were born), in Miyagi Prefecture. His artistic background also includes time spent as a craftsman of Yuzen silk kimono dying. He is a multiple award winner in yearly Kokeshi competitions, receiving the Prime Minister’s Award, the highest honor bestowed on Sosaku Kokeshi artists. All of his work is easily recognized by the painterly designs decorating his dolls. Now deceased, his son, Akinori is carrying on the family’s tradition, but in limited production.
Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles:
The most unusual quality of his dolls is that their heads can be a separate element, or just a simple tapered element at the top of the doll form. The artist motif‘s range from realistic to abstract Plum flowers, (Ume), Cherry blossoms, (Sakura), Japanese Iris, (Ayame), or celebrating seasonal festivals with zodiac animals. Takahashi-san has an unusual way to illustrate kimono in a very painterly way. He shows both the kimono and undergarments, with exaggerated waists and simple obi, if it shows an obi at all. Occasionally seen is his use of Rokuro Moyo in both carved and painted form.