Vintage Sosaku Kokeshi entitled: “Winter Girl” by Shouzan, Shido
The northern villagers have traditionally been farmers and silkworm cultivators, who, in spite of bad weather, had to move about without a care. These Minomushi have been conceived based on traditional pitched roofs throughout the Showa Valley region. That treatment was known locally as “Te o inotte”, (praying hands), a reference to the fact that the unique roofs look like praying hands, and were built to shed the heavy snows that fall in the winter.
Here we see the use of the pointed Minomushi, (Rain/Snow Coat), in natural growth-patterned and colored woods, with expressive faces and red undergarments to accent each doll. The doll is signed and an award-winning label remains attached to the doll.
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, breakage, or repairs and meets all the standards of the collectible Sosaku Kokeshi.
Shido-san is considered by Kokeshi collectors and critics alike to be arguably the most influential artist in the world of Sosaku Kokeshi doll making. Shido-san’s main focus was depicting unadorned Northern girls in the traditional “Mino”, or Snow Coat, but he also produced tall, thin dolls, which were sparsely decorated. His keen sense of design, minimal use of color, and simple elegant shapes set him apart from his peers, making him one of the most collectible artists emerging from the creative period of the ‘60s. He is a winner of the Prime Minister’s Award, among many other awards.
Collector's note – descriptive qualities, standard characteristics & ornamentation styles:
Shido-san loved studying the use of combining different types of wood to gain the desired effect and to give dimension to his pieces. He also enjoyed creating slender, tall dolls to support the fact that they resemble the tall, thin trees seen throughout Japan. He incorporated a repetitive textural pattern called ‘Harmonic Chatter work’ to enhance the natural qualities of the wood on many of his works.
Shido-san particularly enjoyed the textural qualities of ‘Chattering’ on the rain/snow coat, (Minomushi), which is a favorite theme, executed with minimal painted ornamentation, with an emphasis on the natural wood. In general, it is said the Japanese culture is one of modesty and humility. Occasionally we see different types of headdress, one of which he called a ‘Tsunokakushi’, which is a wide headresses or hood, which covered elaborate hairstyles. We are told that the Japanese people regulate their behavior and response by reading faces and the eyes of others. Here, as well as elsewhere, you will see many examples of different characteristics of the eye is expressions. His most famous doll was called “mai”, a dancer, which was an elegant and slender doll created in 1970. This doll exhibited traditional hair design with an emphasis on a brightly colored “obi” which brings forth the best use of complex geometry to create traditional Japanese clothing elements.
Shido-san was a prolific artist/woodworker of Kokeshi dolls. We additionally see unusual subjects focused on Zen Buddhism and figures of Daruma, (Bodhidharma) of which most were made in a “roly-poly” type figure seen throughout festivals in Japan.