Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi entitled: “‘Kitakaze’ | North Wind” by Miyajima, Muhitsu
Offered is an exceptional carved figure fabricated from a combination of woods, (Beech, Elm, and Dogwood). It has three parts distinctive parts: its wonderfully fashioned head; the snow coat and the base. Firstly, its face is quite simple incorporating sumi-e’ brushwork and tilted looking downwards with a suggestion of her hair pushed to the sides of the face, horizontal expressive eyes, and a small dot representing her nose.
The most unique element is her tightly wrapped and heavy “Mino” (winter coat). In this particular case Muhitsu-san made the coat from one branch of the tree, tapered to accentuate the body but most importantly, it has a naturally formed knot on the back of the coat which is a visible imperfection in the wood that is circular and darker than the surrounding wood area giving a one-of-a-kind element to the coat adding depth and character to the overall piece. This incorporation Each section is made of a combination of woods, Birch (Kabanoki) and Maple (Momiji), in which the figure is of lighter colored wood, and the coat is a darker wood. The piece is finished with a clear lacquer to accentuate the natural color of the wood. The doll is signed in script with a red incised stamp on the bottom.
A multiple award winner, Miyajima-san won the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award in 1973. The piece is published in the book entitled: Sosaku Kokeshi: Celebrating the Major Artists of the Creative Movement, 2022.
Condition: Excellent meaning that the piece retains its original craft/workmanship showing a wonderful-developed patina commensurate which suggests a degree of wear that corresponds to its vintage. It is void of damage, cracks (other than those noted above related to the natural knot and shown in the image), breakage, or repairs and meets all the standards of the collectible Sosaku Kokeshi.
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.