Vintage Traditional Kokeshi

Vintage Traditional Yajirou Kokeshi by Niiyama, Fukuo


b.Late, 1960s

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 7-1/2”h

Yajirou dolls hail from the small farming village of Yajirou near Kamasaki Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture. As with this doll, it has distinct waists and a wider base making them very stable. Its unique quality is the deep relief carving at the narrow portion of the waist and that the figure is entirely black painting and having a very Victorian Edwardian appearance in the coloration and form of its garment. The entire body is hand-painted with horizontal stripes encircling the body, as well as on the top of the head as in the ‘Rokoru Moyo’ style. The lower portion of the figure has an abstract motif terminating at the base. Incorporated are the double eyelids, cat-shaped nose, and tiny red dot representing her mouth. The piece is signed in script on the bottom by the artist.

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.

Note: There is no biographical information published on this artist other than he was a Yajirou carver born in 1922.


Japanese Traditional Kokeshi | Yajirou-Kei (Family)

Prefecture: Miyagi

Origin:

The creators of these dolls hail from the small farming village of Yajirou-machi near Kamasaki Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture, once a farming village between two, tall mountains. The kiji-shi (woodworkers), divided their time between farming and wood-craft. Those who made kokeshi in their spare time sent their wives to the nearby Kamasaki Onsen to sell their work to tourist shops and through onsens.

Collector's note – characteristics/painting style:

The majority of this style has distinct waists and wider bases, making them very stable. Yajirou dolls are some of the most brightly painted of the traditional family set. Utilizing a veritable rainbow of colours, from the usual red and black to green, yellow, and even blue and purple, they are available in probably the widest range of shapes. The upper body usually has a hand-painted collar with horizontal stripes encircling the body, as in the Rokoru moyo style, and vertical stripes running below the waist to the base of the doll. However, Yajirou dolls can also be found with a series of chrysanthemum petals running down the front of the body, or a branch of plum blossoms as the only decoration. Some, also have a painted beret-like feature or a bun on their heads, similarly painted with a red center spot. Less common are Yajirou that have conical hats known as Suge-Gasa. Typically seen is one lid or double eyelids, cat or pick shaped nose. Yajirou kokeshi have been made from cherry wood, camellia, and maple, but the preferred wood is white dogwood, (mazuki).

NOTE: Both Yajirou ad Togutta dolls are sometimes created with loose rings circling the waists. Literally carved from the same wood as the body, a very meticulous method! This treatment is referred to as 'Yamiyo' style kokeshi. It is also seen on Tsuchiyu dolls, though very rarely.

Notable artists:

Satou Denki, b. 1909
Satou Dennai, Master
Ishikawa Tokujiro, b. 1915
Niiyama Fukutaro, Master
Sato Tatsuro, b. 1928
Sato Imasaburo, Master
Hamatsu Heizaburo, b. 1933
Niiyama Sanai, MasterYajirou
Niiyama Yoshinori, b. 1960
Niiyama Yoshitaro, Grand Master