The Zuishin dolls are a part of the Hina Ningyo doll set for Hina Matsuri, the Girl’s Day Festival in Japan. Though they are commonly called Daijin minister dolls, they are the figures of Toneri, the imperial guardsmen and escorts from the Heian period (794-1185).
It was said that the Zuishin dolls were already seen (created and added to the Imperial Hina couple) in Kyoto during the Meiwa era (1764-1772) while the musician dolls were created in Edo (current Tokyo) at the same time. Jyokan, the ladies in waiting dolls, were added later in the early 19th century.
The hats and the head of the dolls are carved out of the same one piece of wood and are covered with Gofun (crushed oyster shell powder and paste). This indicates that they were made from late Edo to early Meiji period. Their eyes are painted. To find the old Zushin dolls is difficult enough today but to see it in such a good condition is quite pleasing. They are 11 inches tall from the bottom of the stand to the tip of the hat.