Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi by Kazuo Shibata


Dimensions: 11-1/2”h

This is one of the oldest dolls I have purchased and demonstrates the Japanese woodworkers indispensable concept of “mottainai”, or not to waste unused woods, and to prolong the wood’s useful life through recycling. This doll is made of different pieces of wood united into one cohesive element. This approach attaches great importance to making use of the different traits of wood, such as the fibers, holes, knurls, veins, and natural color, utilizing a variety of techniques to fabricate a unique form.

The doll has a wonderful and unusual hand painted black and grey graphic representing reed and grass along the estuaries on the upper and lower portions of the body and garment, along with a ribbing of incised horizontal rings to form the Obi. This is a very important piece by one of the first transitional Kokeshi woodcarvers who broke away from the traditional family of Kokeshi artists and introduced the Sosaku (creative) movement, (unfortunately being a rare artist we only have his name because of its age and limited record keeping there is no biographical information on the carver). The piece is signed on the bottom by the artist.

Condition: Because of the importance of preserving this transitional doll, it has been restored some years earlier to stop the original hairline cracks on the top of the head from the effects of using older wood. When the doll was stained and finished the various woods have taken on a mosaic kind of patina giving further character to the doll.