Japanese textiles dolls ceramics kanzashi by Asian Art by Kyoko

Antique Japanese Clay Doll, Emperor and Empress Dolls

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Dolls: Pre 1920: Item # 566009
Asian Art By Kyoko
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Los Angeles
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Unique Japanese antique clay doll, Mingei folk art of Japan, Emperor and Empress hina dolls (Dairi bina). Clay dolls were made all over Japan by the late Edo period (1603-1868) by off-season farmers which would often involve the entire family for extra income. These dolls were for the regular people (over 90 percent of the population were farmers then) who could not afford pretty hina dolls made out of cloth. While the early clay dolls in the Edo period still carried religious meanings, displaying dolls in the individual home (in late Edo) was a parent’s prayer for the well being of their children at a time when medicine was much less advanced. The popularity of clay dolls quickly declined when cloth dolls became available to the common people. The Hakata clay dolls were the only ones that made the successful transition to a commercial level.

We have not seen this sophisticated of a doll in the older clay dolls until now. The face of the doll is shiny; it almost appears to be glazed with a thin coating. We think it is covered with white Gofun (same finish used for non-clay Japanese dolls). Without this glaze, we might have said that these are old Hakata dolls (unglazed doll). The other interesting thing about this clay doll is that the face is very realistic. This may be Imajyuku Clay Doll made in the same area, Fukuoka, Kyushu, late 1800s to 1940.

Emperor: 10" W x 12 3/4" H Empress: 10 1/4" W x 14" H