Japanese folk art, farmer's clay doll: 13"h x 13 1/2"
This type of clay dolls are somehow all originated from the Fushimi clay doll of the Kyoto area.
Fushimi dolls were originally sold as souvenirs to the pilgrims on the road of Fushimi Kaidou from Kyoto to Fushimi Inari Shrine in the early Edo period (1600-1868). By the end of 19th century, these dolls were made all over Japan. 90 percent of the Edo population were farmers who could not afford nor were allowed to have hina dolls dressed in silk brocades. When hina dolls were still very limited to the wealthy in early 1900s, these clay dolls were for the regular people. Roof tile makers had a large part in the process of making clay dolls. But many of these dolls were made by off-season farmers often involving the entire family for extra income. They were displayed for the Sekku festival time (girl's hina festival) not only for the girls but for the boys. Displaying the dolls was the parent’s prayer for the well being and survival of their children when medicine was not only less advanced but not available. These handmade clay dolls could not survive the competition to sophisticated Hakata dolls which were the only clay dolls to succeed commercially. They became forgotten when hina and other cloth dolls became available to the general population. Many were being thrown away after the earthquake damages or others. At one point, there were over 150 regions making clay dolls. There were 50 kilns in Fushimi in the early 1800’s (only one left now). Some very encouraging and impressive attempts has been made by some people in Japan to save or revive these dolls.