Old Japanese clay doll, a lovely standing girl with a flower bouquet, 14" tall from early 1900s. This doll is signed and dated (the date that sold or given to) at the bottom, March of the third year.
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). When the hina dolls were still very limited to a few wealthy people in early 1900s, these clay dolls were for the regular people. They were made by off-season farmers often involving the entire family for extra income. Roof tile makers may had played a large part in the process. They were displayed for the Sekku festival time in March (Hina festival for girls) not only for the girls but for the boys. Displaying the dolls was the parent's prayer for the well being and sometimes survival of their children when medicine was not only less advanced but not available.
These handmade clay dolls could not survive the competition to pretty dolls dressed in cloth. They were eventually forgotten when hina and other cloth dolls became available to the general population. There were over 150 regions making clay dolls at one point. Out of 50 kilns in Fushimi in the early 1800, only one left today.