Vintage, RARE Traditional Tougatta Mokumegane Style Kokeshi by Sato, Kazuo


Dimensions: 12-0”h

Sato Kazuo, (b.1942-), is one of the Tougatta craftsmen who founded the Tougatta Kiji Union. This cooperative was able to gain the rights for reserved wood use from the Japanese Ministry of Forestry. 

This Kokeshi doll was sold at the Akiu Onsen-Miyagi Prefecture, Sendai City, and is made in two parts. It is constructed by inserting a pin in the "neck" of the doll into the base of the head, (a squeeze-in type, which cannot be turned to produce a ‘squeak’, as other Narugo, which were made to create sound). As shown here, a pattern called, ‘Tegara’, in which the head is covered with a red chrysanthemum motif, with radial curving lines moving from the top of the head down onto the forehead, covering the sides of the head. This doll exhibits the typical Tougatta bangs split in two with side hair fringes, thin narrow eyes, and a split nose or cat-type nose. The doll has a narrow, columnar body shape, tapering at the shoulders to a head that is wider than the rest of the beauty and is more angular than round. It also incorporates the ‘Rokoru Moyo’ circular treatment to create an impression of the collar of the Kimono and the Obi, both done in light gray-green pigment. The entire piece is finished with natural-colored candle wax, (Rosoku no ro). 

As for the body decoration, it is a hand-painted abstract pattern referred to as Mokumegane, which takes on the appearance of natural wood grain, and is used to create many artistic objects). Most of this doll style shows the wood treatment on the body that was painted while the doll was still on the lathe. This wood treatment was developed as a family pattern, which at the time could only be used by an artisan who has attained full mastership in the Tougatta Kiji Union, which makes this particular type of Kokesh VERY rare, few are placed on the market for sale. Sato-san’s signature is on the bottom of the doll.

Condition: Excellent, original condition, with no fading or loss of color and consistent with age. The piece meets all the standards of collectible Folk Art. An exceptional Traditional Kokeshi find for the collector.