Vintage, Rare Japanese Narugo Style Kokeshi by Matagoro, Yashima
This large, rare, and beautiful Sosaku Kokeshi is in the Narugo style and turned from one piece harvested Sugi, (Cedar), from the mountains of Nangai-cho in the Akita Prefecture. Like his ancestors, Yashima-san was a highly-skilled carver who enjoyed working with ‘Sugi’, as it was an aromatic, softwood with a very visible grain. The aesthetic difference of this Narugo doll is in the suggestion of the Kimono being simple lines from the carving and the accent on the vertical graining of the wood that runs through the entire length of the doll. Also noted is the slight narrowing at the waist with beveled shoulders growing out of the top of the outer garment.
We understand that this is a Male version of Kokeshi with a suggested decorative hair treatment which is the definitive feature of the head with side fringes, set wide apart, and a single eyelid. A small mouth and cat nose complete the definition of the face. Though his basically plain doll is not as decorative as others of this family of Kokeshi, its unique, flowing form is stronger visually because of its inherent elegance. The piece is titled in script on the front of the doll with the artist's signature on the back.
Condition: Excellent and beautiful condition affording the doll age-old elegance. Beautiful patina with no fading or chipping, unrestored for this style of Kokeshi has the reputation of being the most sophisticated of family dolls. The piece meets all the standards of Traditional Narugo Kokeshi collectibles.
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Well over two hundred years ago, a Kiji-shi by the name of Matagoro harvested Sugi, (Cedar), in the mountains of Nangai-cho in the Akita Prefecture. He was a highly-skilled carver who enjoyed working with ‘Sugi’, as it was an aromatic, softwood with an evident grain. His most famous Kokeshi celebrates Mt. Nangai-cho and the Cedar tree that the Japanese love. His ancestors created what was the first generation Matagoro doll which is believed to be one of his original conceptions of this doll’s shape and simple form. The doll on the left is the original Matagoro. The doll on the right is the vintage Matagoro.
Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles:
He created a very rough form of a doll, which is thought to be the forerunner of the Traditional Kijiyama doll. Since the wood was too soft to work on the primitive lathe in use at the time, Matagoro-san who is 7th generation carved/chiseled his dolls, until more modern techniques allowed for shaping them on a lathe. The aesthetic difference between his doll is that the suggestion of the Kimono is usually a simple line. He later added the three symbols of ‘Sho-Chiku-Bai’ to highlight the obi. Finally, he enjoyed incorporating Haiku, (Poems), into his creations.