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Japanese Geisha in Glass case, signed, very elaborate.

In Dolls > Japanese Dolls > Show & Tell.
Japanese Dolls209 of 264WAGASAJapanese Geisha Doll,17", Cloth and Canvas, humble, perhaps old or wartime?
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    Posted 7 years ago

    (59 items)

    A Total mystery. This was one of grandma's dolls, but I have no idea from what era. Does anyone have any idea about these dolls and what their history might be, or someone who speaks Japanese and can translate the signature? Apart the signature, there are no markings, just tons of flourish!! Thank you again for any help you can give me, Michelle amieux

    Unsolved Mystery

    Help us close this case. Add your knowledge below.


    1. Manikin Manikin, 7 years ago
      Your Japanese Geisha doll is wonderful. Most of these starting coming to US after and during War and the Military guys and gals brought them back as souvenirs during WWII era . They actually became collectible to USA and that is why so many survived . The lacquer cases that they often came in kept them in very good condition . She is beautiful and I would say 1940's doll. There were many companies as cottage industries also made these girls so determine which one would not change her value :-)
    2. michelleamieux michelleamieux, 7 years ago
      Manikin, that is good to know. I wonder who brought this beauty back. The photos weren't done well, I should put a side shot, but the flourish is thick. My other Japanese doll looks like a "Nagasaki" (poverty stricken) doll, compared to this rich one. Once again, thank you for all the help you provide, best wishes, Michelle
    3. iamken iamken, 7 years ago

      the doll's theme in the picture is what they call FUJIMUSUME or Wisteria Dance.

      So what is the dance about?

      Well, it portrays the spirit of the wisteria as a fashionable young girl, extravagantly dressed in a long sleeved kimono, called Nagasode, and obi (or sash) with a distinctive wisteria pattern. She also carries a wisteria branch with which she poses as the dance begins.
    4. michelleamieux michelleamieux, 7 years ago
      iamkin, thank you so much, that is so beautiful. I will look up the dance of the Wisteria, Fujimusume. I love rituals and ceremonies in dance. I know absolutely nothing about the doll, as it was part of my Grandmas's estate, which I just started going through. Is there any way to find out who the artist/signature is, and thereby possibly date it? She seems so new, but I'm sure she is not. The case is beautiful, too. Finally one clue as to the history of this beautiful little lady!! Thank you, Mich
    5. iamken iamken, 7 years ago
      The artist is usually printed at the mini wooden plaque near the food of the doll. It is in red ink since Japanese (or any orient) people rely on stamp pads. In Japan, they call those HANKO

      In Japan, people do not sign; They use stamps. They are called Han or Hanko, and every individual in Japan has one. We will translate your last name into Kanji characters and create a Hanko that is just like the one people in Japan use.

      When and how should one use a hanko?

      There are no rules. For example, you can stamp it next to your signature on a letter like this. Or, you can put it to seal an envelope, like this. Also, if you run a martial art dojo, you can use it on your certificate.
    6. michelleamieux michelleamieux, 7 years ago
      Iamken, thank you so much for your insight. Between you and Mani, the doll department is well schooled!! I will look up the Hanko, as this Hanko is in black, I wonder why? It seems it should be in red, as you said. I will research and thank you for taking your time and energy to help me!! Mich
    7. iamken iamken, 7 years ago
      Hmm... Actually, hanko inks are usually in red. I have a hanko in my home. I got that as one of souvenir when I went to Japan in year 2006

      if you are referring to the 2 "Chinese-like characters" then it is the name of the doll though I am not 100% positive since I do not read their characters. I just based these details from my own collection.

      I got a similar doll but due to the age, the red ink is not that visible anymore and it takes time to see the red ink..

      You are always welcome. Afterall we are one doll family heehe
    8. michelleamieux michelleamieux, 7 years ago
      iamken, I need to look more closely under her voluminous kimono, to see if there is a plaque at her feet, or anything(Hanko) in red written. I have never looked at her closely, at all!!Now I understand, the black ink probably says, Doll of the Dance of the Wisteria", or the exact name of the doll, not the artist. I am learning so much here. I can't tell you how much this community has helped me!! When I get time, I will take out a couple of panes of glass to see if there are any markings hidden among all the elaboration!! As always, thank you for your time, Mich
    9. iamken iamken, 7 years ago
      actually, where the black ink is written is the plaque (or board) I am referring to. The artists sometimes leaves his hanko signature there.
    10. michelleamieux michelleamieux, 7 years ago
      iamken, please forgive my ognorance, but I am confused. Is the hanko that is a signature always in red? Why is my hanko in black? Is it just a description of the doll, by the manufacturer, where there is no one artist? I looked up hanko, but it is a used for so many different things, I couldn't find any info on hankos on Geisha dolls!! So, what does it all mean? I looked closely to see if there was faded red ink, but there is what does a black hanko mean? Iamken, you have the most beautiful collection of Asian dolls, I was amazed by the beauty of each one. You certainly have an incredible collection and exquisite taste. I have one more question, before I there any way to date this doll? Do you think the date might be on the hanko? As you can tell, I am still a bit confused about the nature of hankos, as they can be so many things. Thank you for your time and energy, mich
    11. iamken iamken, 7 years ago

      no such thing as ignorance. We are ALL learning here.

      After searching and looking closely, and there is really no red ink (or faded) in the plaque, it is better that the doll might be shown to someone who can read Japanese text. For all we know the black ink is already the name of the artist. If you want to see a sample of how hanko is written on the name of the doll with the artists initial, please send me a message at and I will send you an attachment so you can have an idea as to how it looks like.

      Regarding the date, it is good if you can email also Mr Alan Pate. He is quite expert when it comes to dating of the dolls

      the email is
    12. michelleamieux michelleamieux, 7 years ago
      iamken, you are kind and gracious, too!! I spent two hours last night researching hanko, and the Fujimusume Riual, in dolls, kibuki theater and in paintings. It does seem that me dol is more ornate than any others I saw. I am so glad to know to look for the big black hat and wisteria in hand. It is an amazing dance, I must ask you, do male actors play all the roles in Kibuki theater? All the dances of the maiden were done by men, quite incredible. The Japanese culture is so rich and artistic. I will send you an e-mail and also will send some photos to Mr. Alan Pate. I feel we mat solve our mystery with Mr. Pate. I found one Fujimusumu on E'Bay, in case, for $995.00 I was shocked. There was no distinguishable hanko, but to garner that value, it must have SOMETHING special!! I LOVE your doll collection. A friend and I have been discussing opening a shop as I have enough stock with just my Grandparent's estate, yet, after looking at your dolls, if we do take on this project, I will focus the shop partly on Asian dolls, as I have FALLEN IN LOVE after seeing your and CW diverse collection, uh oh, I think I'm hooked!!!. The wife of my "partner" is Japanese, and travels there often. Iamken, I can not thank you enough. I will send both e-mails when I get home from work...thank you again my friend!! Mich
    13. michelleamieux michelleamieux, 7 years ago
      Iamken, I should mention my partner's wife is Japanese, born and raised in Hawaii, so she doesn't speak Japanese, or very little, so she didn't know what it said!! Thank you again, Michelle
    14. michelleamieux michelleamieux, 7 years ago
      Iamken, I have a favor to ask, as if you hadn't helped me enough. Also in my Grandma's dolls was a VERY simply elegant Geisha, barefoot, made of rough cloth apart a tiny but of silk as belt and around neck. I believed it was a war doll, when silks and satins were rare. may I ask you to take a look at her, she is posted with the other doll. She really is a total mystery, and her humility, and bare feet make me wonder what her story is. Thank you if you do have the time. I appreciate your knowledge and willingness to share it, Thank you, Michelle
    15. iamken iamken, 7 years ago

      I am glad I am helping you in my little ways. you are always welcome.

      I am aware that long time ago, most of the KABUKI plays are being done by MALE actors.

      Here is the link from wikipedia

      REgarding the other doll, can you email me the link so I can check?

    16. iamken iamken, 7 years ago
      Also, making a business with dolls is definitely DIVINE and fun.

    17. michelleamieux michelleamieux, 7 years ago
      Hi Iamken, the humble Geisha doll I was referring to is also posted here on CW "show and tell", under my name michelleamieux. I only have a little over 20 items posted. I would send you the link, but as I am over fifty, and computer illiterate, you would be more likely to receive a link of chain in your mail!! Thank you so much, I am not sue how I titled her, Geisha Doll Canvas kimono, or something klike that, I have a strong feeling it is a war doll, and I am very intrigued by her bare feet, which I have yet to see in a Asian doll, it seems all the ladies are in different styles of sandals. Thank you again for your time and knowledge, Michelle

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