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