Japanese textiles dolls ceramics kanzashi by Asian Art by Kyoko

Large Kabuki Puppet Doll Heads

Large Kabuki Puppet Doll Heads

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Dolls: Pre 1900: Item # 144069
Asian Art By Kyoko
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Make-up plays a vital roll in a Kabuki play because it is dark in the Kabuki Theater (especially in 17th century Edo period without light bulbs). It was sometimes exaggerated, along with their costumes, to let the audience know right away who they were and also their emotional stages. You might have seen the elaborate (very beautiful), flashy Kabuki costumes. They certainly were not daily wears.

Here, the interesting design on a male figure face is actually Kabuki make-up called “Kumadori”, which was first introduced by the famous Kabuki actor, Danjyuro Ichikawa I, in 1673. Drawn in red shows anger, forcefulness or passion. When the whole face is painted red, it is a demon character.

Both heads are 9 1/4 inches high excluding their hair. They may have been part of the old Jyoruri puppet dolls, or if not, they are probably some type of festival doll. The heads are made out of carved wood and covered with Gofun (crushed shell with paste). It is interesting to see from the damaged areas in one doll, how these older heads were made. Only the female doll has damages under her chin and you can see the paper covering the wood under the thick layer of Gofun. Unfortunately, this damage was done by the last owner during his research. These older well made dolls are amazingly immune to the cracks.