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Japanese boy with lantern

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Dolls2283 of 3940Japanese ladyJapanese Warrior
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Posted 4 years ago


(3 items)

My daughter bought this for me in the 1970's she said it was a collectable item but I don't know anything about it.

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  1. ningyocurious, 4 years ago
    I had fun finding out more on this type of doll for you. These dolls are Hakata ningyô, named after the region where they were first produced, Hakata-Ku, now a part of Fukuoka City in Fukuoka prefecture, which lies on the northern side of the island of Kyushu, the southern most of Japan’s 4 main islands. They are considered earthenware as the firing temperature of the kiln drying is low, within a range of 800° to 900°, a few hundred degrees lower than the temperatures for pottery, which ranges about 1100° to 1300°. By comparison, porcelain, containing kaolin clay, is fired at 1900° to 2300° and stoneware is fired between 2100° and 2372°. The hakata dolls are also at times called bisque ware, or Suyaki Ningyô.
    The origin of this local specialty goes back approximately to 1586 to 1608. This is the story that is told of their origin: In 1586 the feudal lord of Fukuoka, Nagamasa Kuroda, was constructing a new castle when he noticed a workman making a doll from the scraps of clay left from making the clay tiles for the palace's roof. The workmanship of the figure was so charming that the ruler employed the craftsman, Sohichi, to make dolls and adornments for the castle.
    So, that’s the story, but it would not be that huge of a breakthrough for an artist to be molding a figure from roof tile clay because dragon, lion or demon clay ornaments had long been featured as protective decorations on tile roofs. This custom, like the first roof tiles themselves, came over from Korea and China. In addition, the making of clay human figures goes back to pre-historical times in Japan, with the dogu and haniwa clay figures found in tombs buried with the dead. During historical times, in this corner of Kyushu, there has long been a custom, dating back to the Kamakura Era about 800 years ago at least, of treasuring unglazed clay dolls among those at the local temples and shrines and in neighborhoods with Chinese immigrants.
    In any case, Sohichi and his kin continued to create these lovely dolls for several generations until there wasn’t a next generation to teach, and soon after other local artists took up the craft. They benefited from their location in that the western shores of Kyushu have always been more exposed to Western input from both the continent and the sea simply due to their geography and distance from the isolationist capital. Fukuoka to Korea is 124 miles, while Tokyo is 749 miles away. By the end of the Edo Era, oil paintings techniques, unknown in Japan, but popular of course in Europe, were being experimented with and soon were being applied to the dolls. Doll makers even studied anatomy for reference in structuring the dolls bodies as Hakata ningyô developed into a more refined art form. They become very sought after throughout Japan, where ningyô of all kinds are beloved.
    The doll maker must first create a clay model of the doll from which a mold is then built. The Hakata artists also have the advantage of a specific type of very fine-grained white clay found locally which is ideal for making these sleek ningyô. This is then carefully filled into the mold. This then must be removed very carefully so damage the finely detailed features. One mold can only be used for about 50 dolls, so several of the same molds need to be made to produce a quantity of any one doll. When they are removed from the molds the dolls are first dried and then fired in the kiln. After cooling, pigment is applied and the facial features painted on. It can take 20 to 60 days to complete one finished doll.
    These efforts came to fruition in 1925, when the Japanese dollmaker Yoichi Kojima was awarded the Gold Prize in Paris World's Exhibition and his fellow Hakata artisans, Kihei Harada and Yoichi Oayu, were both awarded Silver Prizes. From that point the dolls became popular with fine art collectors internationally. What put them in curio cabinets throughout America, however, was the fascination of the American servicemen from the Occupation following World War II and those stationed at or resting in Japanese bases during the Korean War and even the Vietnam War.
    Today the dolls vary in size from a few inches tall to life size and range in price from $30 for small kimono-clad bride to hundreds or $2,400 for a one foot tall, elaborately-painted Noh actor, with specialty custom-made ones sell for as much as $8,000. A typical doll takes about four weeks to make, but some traditional handmade dolls can take six months or more to make and the armor alone on some samurai dolls can cost between $1000 and $50,000.
    It is the custom in Japan to give Hakata dolls as wedding gifts or on the birth of a child, or for new house or office warmings. The different mythological figure exhibited, or the Kabuki or Noh drama displayed refer to the type of good wishes the donor hopes to convey for the recipient in a society where all are familiar with the nuances of the classic legends.
    There are always broad varieties available on eBay to examine and compare to yours, just search Hakata.
  2. NannaMac NannaMac, 4 years ago
    Thank you kindly for info

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