Kimekomi dolls are made from "toso", a hardened mix of paulownia sawdust and starch paste. Grooves are carved on the doll's body and fabrics are tucked into the grooves to create the doll's clothing. This method of tucking is called "kimekomi", hence the name of the dolls.
Kimekomi dolls are said to have originated in 1739 in Kyoto, when a priest of the Kamigamo Shrine used willow wood scraps to make dolls and clothed them by tucking pieces of fabric to their bodies. Back then, they were known as Kamo dolls. As many dollmakers moved to Edo (now Tokyo), they brought with them their doll-making techniques, and the dolls eventually came to be known as Kimekomi dolls.
Kimekomi dolls come in many varieties, from traditional Hina (Girls' Festival) dolls and Gogatsu (Boys' Festival) dolls, to motifs of children, geisha, Noh and Kabuki actors, and more. Recently, there have even been Kimekomi dolls of animals and famous characters.
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