Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi

Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi by Sato, Suigai, Entitled: Haru no Mezame (Spring Awakening)

Sato, Suigai



Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 12-1/2”h

This is a very unusual shape for Suigai showing a unique and beautifully executed doll with her traditional hairstyle Mage in which the hair is in a complex manner and similar to a bun. She has a peaceful nature on her face with expressive eyes with eyelashes and a small red nose. He utilized an uncolored waxed wood with a combination of cherry and plum blossom motifs in white, red, and yellow. All-in-all Sato-san created a wonderfully simple form of three separate circular sections defining the body from the same piece of wood. At first, it appears that she is wearing a Kimono, but at second look shows that an Obi was not used, but in its place, a simple red sash on the side of her body appears, which is typically used with a Yukata. His stamp was on the bottom but worn off but this doll was published in an older Kokeshi book entitled: An Invitation to Kokeshi Dolls, which helped identify artists and their works of the period. Sato, Suigai, (1920-), has won numerous awards for these creations.

Condition: Very Good condition, commensurate with age showing minimal scratches near the base which don’t distract from the appreciation of the figure.

Artisan | Woodworker: Sato, Suigai | 1920-


Sato-san, also known as Sadahachi, was born in Okubo, Yoshioka Village, Gunma Prefecture, to a family who owned a silk trading business. At the age of 18, he began his professional career as a painter under famous artist Komuro, Suiun, before pursuing a career in creative Kokeshi making in 1948. Sato-san also pursued careers in fashion design, engineering, and mechanics. His Kokeshi dolls have won many awards, including the Prime Minister’s Award in 1966. In 1970, Sato-san’s artistry was recognized by Japan’s Imperial Family, Crown Prince Akihito, (Now Emperor Akihito), the Minister of Economy and Trade, and the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles:

What is unique to this artist’s dolls is the unusual but traditional hairstyle, the wheat, summer grass, bamboo, (symbolizing prosperity, purity, and innocence), plum blossoms, and abstract leaves. In many instances he utilizes an uncolored wood obi on both plain and vividly colored Kimono. He additionally incorporated ‘Stilt grass’, which is most commonly found in moist areas of wetlands. He also enjoyed representing ‘Kyoho budo’, (giant mountain grapes). Occasionally he incorporated pine, plum, and bamboo, referred to as “sho-chiku-bai”. Sato-san created many wonderful simple forms. The artist regularly captures a peaceful nature in his dolls faces, complementing the serene nature that fills the countryside. And finally, we see Sato-san creating very large Kokeshi, made in two separate sections from the same piece of wood. The motif on the body represent the family crests, (Mon).

Artist's Signature: