Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi entitled: “Shuen | The Past” by Katase, Kaihei (1921-2015)


Dimensions: 13-00”h

Katase-san was recognized for his exceptional crafting skills and was named “Holder of Excellent Technique” by the Prime Minister in 1970. A seldom-seen form, this doll was made to record the arrival, in the 18th century, of the Dutch East Indies Trading Company to Japan. At the time, the Dutch maintained a trading post at Hirado, an artificial island off the coast of Nagasaki. During this period, the Dutch were the only Europeans allowed into Japan, and as a result, had a major influence on how the Japanese interpreted life and style of dress, including hair treatment.  

This tall and slender beauty is a wonderful representative example of European dress and an interpretation of oversized up-flipped hair styling. Being lathe-turned, this doll is beautifully lacquered, with the textured body in multiple colors of vermilion, yellow, and black. Her eyes are not painted but carved into the wood, and she has a tiny red dot for a nose. This Kokeshi is not signed but distinctly Katase-san’s style of work and particularly, the detailing and lacquering. Art objects at this time were not necessarily signed, because they were made for domestic customers, and the artist was known through every prefecture in Japan. This piece has the artist's impressed stamp on the lower side of the doll which means it was for a special Japanese customer.

The piece was also included in the 2022 publication of Sosaku Kokeshi: Celebrating the Major Artists of the Creative Movement. For more information on this artist go to the following link:

Condition: Superb, outstandingly excellent, impressive, and beautiful. We have not seen another in 30 years of collecting Sosaku Kokeshi. No chips, cracks, breaks, missing pieces, or restoration, and retains its original details and finish. The piece meets all the standards of the vintage collectible Sosaku Kokeshi.