This is a charming pair of Japanese Gosho – “palace doll”s. They look like two small brothers or friends. The first of the small dolls hold as drum and stick in his hands – he measures 3 1/8” high by 1 1/8” wide by 2 1/8” deep. The other small doll is holding a minogame doll – the minogame is the long haired tortoise that stands for longevity. This one measures 3” high by 2” wide by 1 ¾” deep. Both have gold eboshi style caps on their heads and red silk strings around their necks. Both dolls are in excellent condition with no cracks, chips or restorations. We date them to the late Meiji to Taisho period, circa 1900-1925.
The gosho doll is one of noble descent, and the name means “palace doll,” a reference to the Imperial Palace in Kyoto during the Edo period. In most examples, the clothing is limited to a strict minimum, and it is either painted or pasted on. Gosho ningyo are a uniquely Japanese form, and by tradition, they represent chubby, almost naked little boys with large heads, round bodies and brilliant white skin. They generally show an originality and character which places them in a special category of Japanese dolls. The gosho was created as a presentation doll and was not meant to be a plaything. Although originally the privilege of the aristocracy, gosho dolls gradually became widely popular. In Japan these dolls are considered to be a classic art form and are appreciated as such