Traditional Japanese dolls are not only used as toys and ornamental objects, they also symbolize wishes for good health and fortune, the healthy growth of children, or a bountiful harvest. Some dolls are dressed with elaborate clothing, while others such as kokeshi dolls have a simple wooden trunk and head painted with various designs.
History of dolls
The earliest Japanese dolls were clay figurines made in prehistoric times, such as dogu and haniwa. Later, paper and straw dolls were sometimes used in imperial court functions, and girls in the aristocracy often played with paper dolls, an activity known as "hiina asobi". During the Edo period (1603-1868), dolls dressed in clothing started to appear, and their popularity became more widespread. There were the Hina dolls made to celebrate the Peach Festival on the third day of the third month of the lunar calendar, as well as Ichimatsu dolls, said to be first made in the image of a popular kabuki actor.
Hina dolls became more lavish and elaborate as Japan entered the modern age, but as the times changed and Japanese houses became smaller, simpler and more compact doll sets have become more popular in recent years.
History of kokeshi
The origin of kokeshi dolls is said to date back to 764, when the emperor at the time ordered kijishi (woodworkers) to make a million miniature wooden pagodas for storing Buddhist sutras, as a prayer for spiritual protection of the state. kokeshi dolls in their current form were originally made during the Edo period (1603-1868), when they were sold as souvenirs to people visiting the hot springs in the Tohoku region of Japan. Since that time and even today, kokeshi dolls have been popular as ornaments and gifts.
In recent years, besides traditional kokeshi, there have also been creative kokeshi dolls that feature modern designs, including ones fashioned after famous characters.
Dolls and kokeshi designated as Traditional Crafts of Japan