Posted 2 years ago
This kokeshi doll is 9.75" high x 2.75" diameter at the widest point and weighs 1 lb 2.3 ounces. It is signed and stamped on the back, but the stamp is too faint to make out. The bottom is polished to a very fine, even surface but the rings in the wood are very evident, possibly why it is signed on the back instead of the bottom as is more typical. It is about as basic as a kokeshi doll gets. At first, I thought it was turned on a lathe and not carved, but then I noticed that the hole in the bottom is off center, not in the center as it would be if it was turned on a lathe. Not sure of the purpose of the hole. It is in the center of the grain, so maybe meant to stop splitting? It was pretty inexpensive and I didn't have one. It is also a good size. This is the last thing that I purchased from the estate of the American professor who taught in Japan in the 1990s. As with the other items he sent back to the States, this was never used. I was trying to delay until June to buy these things from his estate, but people started to notice and purchase some of the items, so I paid off my credit cards a few days early and used my June "cool stuff" budget to buy most of the things that I liked. These things are remarkable as they are all at least 30 years old, in new condition and of good quality. He had a "good eye". A couple of items remain and if they are still there in July, I will get them, too.
From: http://www.soulportals.com/kokeshi/Kokeshi%20Village/Shingata/Matagoro%20Kokeshi/index.html :
Sho-Chiku-Bai | Good Luck - Kyoto Traditions states that the Matagoro doll dates back several hundred years to a woodworker named Matagoro. He is said to have carved sugi (Japanese cedar) into a doll form, it is a predecessor to the traditional kokeshi form known today. Sugi is a soft, grainy, lightweight wood considered by most to be unsuitable for kokeshi making but the skills and the style of the first Matagoro have been passed down through many generations, and is currently on the 9th generation."
Great site for information about kokeshi dolls!
The Wikipedia entry for kokeshi dolls:
"Kokeshi (???, ???, kokeshi), are simple wooden dolls with no arms or legs that have been crafted for more than 150 years as a toy for children. Japanese dolls, originally from the northeastern region (T?hoku-chih?) of Japan. They are handmade from wood, have a simple trunk and head with a few thin, painted lines to define the face. The body often has floral and/or ring designs painted in red, black, and sometimes green, purple, blue, or yellow inks, and covered with a layer of wax. One characteristic of kokeshi dolls is their lack of arms or legs. Since the 1950s, kokeshi makers have signed their work, usually on the bottom and sometimes on the back."