Japanese and Chinese antiques and art from B & C
Japanese Gosho Ningyo With Branches and Turtle

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Dolls: Pre 1920: item # 1183321

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B & C   Antiques
P. O. Box 291
Derby, CT 06418

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Japanese Gosho Ningyo With Branches and Turtle

An unusual Japanese gosho ningyo doll dating to the Meiji period (1868-1912). Sublime pose as this chubby little figure holds twig branches in his right hand, and a turtle is suspended from his left. Breathtaking attention to detail throughout including chirimen silk costume and ribbon pattern (“mizuhiki”) on top of head. The doll has teeth, which is rare, and a feature found on only the highest quality dolls. This doll is made of gofun (crushed oyster shell applied in layers) over a wooden core.

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 where they originated. 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. In Japan these dolls are considered to be a classic art form and are appreciated as such.

Gosho ningyo as a whole are considered gift dolls, whether from the Imperial Household or as a gift for an auspicious occasion, such as the celebration of a new born baby. Dolls that were specifically meant as gifts have their forelock tied with a red ribbon. This painted ribbon on the doll’s forehead is called a “mizuhiki,” referring to the red and white paper strings used to tie wrapped presents for special occasions. There is a “mizuhiki” painted on this doll’s forehead.

CONDITION is excellent, with only tiny smudges or foxing on the gofun - expected after 100 + years of handling. Otherwise there are no cracks, chips or loss of gofun. It is interesting that this little character is not missing parts and the tiny turtle still has all its limbs! A truly remarkable find, this doll is from my personal collection.

DIMENSIONS: 5" (12.7 cm) tall x 4" (10.2) wide.

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