Vintage Japanese Traditional Tougatta Ejiko Kokeshi, Entitled: Koma Kodoma by Sato, Masahiro
Dimensions: 8-0”h x 8-1/2” dia
This Ejiko container is the largest piece we have found in over 40 years of buying Japanese Folk Art from the Island of Japan. The Japanese have always known that Pagoda trees were special and always emphasize their natural qualities affording a durable and long-lasting artifact. As with this carving, the wood is composed of alternating natural colors of light-brown to gray-brown throughout the wood. This makes a perfect Kokeshi or Ejiko made by carvers in both Sendai and Hokkaido, Japan.
This Ejiko has a perfect balance of polished and natural textured wood, stripped of its bark and hollowed out for holding children’s toys, and in this case, beautiful hand made spinning tops incorporating marquetry, (small pieces of variously colored wood laid on top of a pre-determined form) geometric patterns. It has a separate, upper part of the body acting as a lid, with a head in the style of the Tougatta Family. This part incorporates on both the top of the head and shoulders, bangs and side hair fringes, with a red stylized chrysanthemum flower and green leaf. The face has narrow eyes and a small pick-shaped nose. The head on the top serves as a decorative grip for easy opening. The container has wide free-form shoulders that are encircled with green ‘Rokoru Mayo’ bands, and further decorated with beautiful red chrysanthemum flowers. The piece is signed in script on the bottom by the artist Sato.
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. A true collectors find.
NOTE: There is no other biographical information published on the artist other than he was born in 1938 in the Miyagi prefecture and apprenticed with the Grand Masters Sato Tetsuro and Wagatsuma, Kichisuke.
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Tougatta dolls are thought to be the oldest family members of the Traditional school. They originated in the Tougatta Onsen in the Miyagi Prefecture, and were subsequently being produced also at Aone Onsen, and the cities of Sendai, and Izumi. In the 1960s, Togatta craftsman founded the Tougatta Kiji Union, a cooperative that was able to gain the rights for reserved wood use from the Japanese Ministry of Forestry. The Tougatta style are easily found by collectors in an interesting range of variations.
Collector's note – characteristics/painting style:
They are easily recognized by their narrow, columnar body shapes, tapering at the shoulders to a head that is wider than the rest of the doll, and more angular than round. Most Tougatta dolls have bangs split in two with side fringes, thin narrow eyes, and a split nose or cat-type nose. Several have paintings of chrysanthemums, (Kiku), plums (Ume), and iris (Ayame), usually in very stylized designs. The dolls decorated with plum branches and blossoms are associated with Aone Onsen. There is also a group which have ‘banded’ bodies. These are decorated in a circular-style painting known as Rokoru Moyo, which is done as the doll is turned on the lathe. Here again, the head is a squeeze-in type, but cannot be turned to produce a ‘squeak’. The head is covered with a painting of a chrysanthemum.
NOTE: Both Yajirou ad Togutta dolls are sometimes created with loose rings circling the waists. Literally carved from the same wood as the body, a very meticulous method! This treatment is referred to as 'Yamiyo' style kokeshi. It is also seen on Tsuchiyu dolls, though very rarely.
Asakura Kinu, b. 1918
Asakura Eiji, Master
Midorikawa Masando, b. 1926
Sato Tetsuro, Grand Master