Vintage Japanese Sosaku Kokeshi entitled: “Ume Goromo | Plum Flower” by Takahashi, Hashime
Shown is an exceptional and Rare Kokeshi which illustrates the artist’s educational foundation in painting, (Sōtatsu-Kōetsu). This piece is formed on the lathe from one piece of Birch (Kabanoki) wood in which the natural wood is only shown on the head-neck and base of the doll. The unique formation of the head is what makes this piece rare, and to date has not been adopted by other carvers. The figure with an upturned face is detailed in black and grey sumi-e’ type rendering as if looking up to the trees dropping plum blossoms. The piece is beautifully ornamented with pink-colored plum blossoms with accented pistils and stamens and disbursed throughout the figure. Takahashi-san completes the Kimono interpretation by adding a nagajuban (stiff undergarment collar), in which tiny colorful flowers bring emphasis to her head and neck, and are fully detailed. He indicates the Kimono closure with a simple line suggesting the draping of the garment and finished in a light liserian purple. She has an exaggerated, tight waistline that simply accents the Obi in gold pigment. The piece is signed and has the artist's impressed stamp on the bottom of the doll. It was purchased in his studio that was in Sendai City, (Northeast of Tokyo on Honshu island) Japan.
Condition: Excellent vintage condition and commensurate with age. Seldom found carving, with no loss or fading of artwork/details. After the turning, carving, and painting, the doll is finished and sealed with a natural candle wax, (Rosoku no ro). A perfect doll for the collector of Japanese Sosaku Kokeshi.
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.