Hakata dolls are unglazed clay figurines painted in subtle colors, and their history goes back to the 1600s. It is said that the lord of Chikuzen province (now Fukuoka Prefecture) at the time gathered many artisans who laid the foundations for today's Hakata dolls. By the late Edo period (1603-1868), many master dollmakers had appeared, and the popularity of Hakata dolls had spread throughout the country.
From the Meiji period (1868-1912), the dolls evolved to show more realistic representations of people. It was during this time that Hakata dolls received worldwide recognition, after they were displayed to much acclaim at major international exhibitions.
These dolls made from the clay of the Hakata area are notable for their delicate quality and warm expressions. They feature a wide range of motifs, including beautiful ladies, kabuki and noh actors, children, and samurai. In order to keep them popular, dollmakers keep producing new dolls with sizes and motifs that are in line with current lifestyles.
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