Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi entitled: “Oshinobi dochu | Traveling Incognito” by Kon, Akira (Seiju)
Kon-san is only one of three other artists, (Ryoichi, Kato, and Hiroshi) who also made interpretations of this stylized Heian noblewomen. Women from families of high rank enjoyed a certain aspect of freedom during the period. These privileged women were well educated in music, poetry, art, fashion, and calligraphy, all part of a Heian woman's education, which gave them more freedom than the general female population.
He beautifully details this lovely doll incorporating his style of elongated face, and wonderfully long hair, similar to hair worn during the Heian period and defined as flowing hair. Women’s foreheads were emphasized with two black marks referred to as ‘Bindi’ decoration, (traditionally, the area between the eyebrows) is said to be the sixth chakra, ajna, the seat of "concealed wisdom”, and is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. Additionally, elongated foreheads are prized by the Japanese representing beauty, elegance, and fashion. As seen in the upper portion of this figure is a layered Kimono ornamented with blue flowers showing on clothing worn for travel: an oversized hat in contrasting paulownia wood, and a heavy garment to ward off the chill, fore which the entire figure is minimally decorated and made of pear wood, (Nashi). This piece, which is mounted onto an octagonal dais/base to present the figure properly, and is one of his older model and unsigned because prior to 1970 not all artists signed pieces because they were known by the locals visiting the onsens/spas.
Condition: Excellent and beautiful example and condition. The doll retains the original craft/workmanship and painted decoration showing a wonderfully-developed patina and commensurate with age and unrestored. This doll meets all the standards of Sosaku Kokeshi collectibles and is a rare piece for the collectors of Seiju.
Seiju studied under Master Hasegawa, Tatsuo, and his designs are based on the Tsugaru-style kokeshi, where his pieces were sold at the Owani Spa, Aomori. Little is known about this artist, other than he is from the Yamagata area, a major Kokeshi-making city/prefecture. ‘Noh’ theatre, of course, along with Kabuki, is Japan’s great gift to the Western world. They originated at religious festivals in the first half of the fourteenth century. Kon-san is famous for his depiction of a ‘Noh Dancer’, and he captured the highly stylized masked actor at his commanding and mysterious best. Unusual for Kokeshi, the artist quite offen added tabi-covered feet to the piece, which one never sees on historically pure Kokeshi.
Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles:
His figures perfectly depict emotions conveyed by wonderfully stylized faces, gestures and simple treatment of garments. He employed different woods, particularly Japanese cypress, (Hinoki), and then stained with natural pigments.