Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi Entitled: Bairin, (Plum Grove) by Miyajima, Muhitsu
For Muhitsu-san, the wood is most critical in his interpretation of the seasons and as with this doll, he incorporates the snow coat called ‘Mino’, which adds depth and character to his pieces. The wearing of a beautifully formed traditional Fuyu, (winter) Kasa, (Hat used In the Edo period, and in this case, the 1950s), is seen in many of his works. This was a kind of woven hat worn by Buddhists and Samurai called a Jingasa, which was an overly large bowl with a thick brim with carved grooves on the front panel of the hat, (later Japanese women hairstyles copied this look). Here he incorporates a plumb blossom rendered in black and being a seasonal fruit with subdued colored leaves in green and orange. As shown here he incorporates a simple sumi-e’ brushwork into his representation of faces, and uneven carved grooving gives ornamentation and texture to the figure. Miyajima-san works in a variety of beautiful woods, but as in this case, he used a heavy, dark-colored Enju wood, (Pagoda tree), for its rich colors and interesting grain. This doll is signed in script on the bottom.
Condition: Excellent, original condition, with no fading or loss of color and consistent with age and standards of collectible Folk Art. All details are perfect and as crafted.
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Miyajima-san was born in Yonezawa City of Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, home of many Traditional Kokeshi makers. He began his career under the tutelage of Master Yamagata craftsman Kobayashi, Kichitaro, in the mid-to late 40s, and then switched to Sosaku doll making in the 1950s. His dolls have had a great influence on Creative, (Sosaku), doll makers since then. A multiple award winner, Miyajima-san won the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award in 1973.
Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles:
Simple form and function is the theme to Miyajima-san’s creations. The wood is most critical in his interpretation of the seasons and often incorporates the snow coat called ‘Mino”, which adds depth and character to his pieces. The wearing of the traditional Fuyu Kasa, (hat), of the 1950s is seen on many of his works and was a kind of headcovering for Buddhists, which was overly large, in a bowl or mushroom shape, and was originally made from woven rice straw. Seasonal flowers, (Camellia), are often used along with Plum blossoms and tree branches, (see the two dolls at the top right named "Bairin or Plum Grove"). He typically incorporates sumi-e’ brush work into his representation of faces, and uneven carved grooving giving ornamentation and texture to the figure. Miyajima-san works in a variety of beautiful woods, but seems to prefer the heavy, dark colored Enju wood, (Pagoda tree), for it’s rich colors and interesting grain.