Japanese Antiques by Ichiban Oriental and Asian Art

Two Ichimatsu Dolls â Big Sister-Little Sister â Showa

Two Ichimatsu Dolls – Big Sister-Little Sister – Showa

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Directory: Vintage Arts: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Dolls: Pre 1960: Item # 1046074

Please refer to our stock # 9DD when inquiring.
These two charming Ichimatsu dolls were obviously made by the same Japanese doll maker as they have very similar kimonos and expressions. Because one is larger than the other we have always thought of the two as "Big Sister" and "Little Sister". The larger doll measures 10” tall by 4” wide by 1 ¾” deep. Her Little Sister measures 8” tall by 4” wide by 2 ¼” deep. They are in very good condition – the kimonos have faded a bit – and there are tiny chips on the very tip of two of the fingers. Both have very winsome faces that would melt the heat of any young girl. We date them to the early 20th century – Taisho to Showa period.

Japanese traditional dolls are known by the name ningyō in Japan, which literally means human shape. There are various types of Japanese dolls, some representing children and babies. Ichimatsu dolls represent little girls or boys, correctly proportioned and usually with flesh-colored skin and glass eyes. The original Ichimatsu were named after an 18th-century Kabuki actor, and must have represented an adult man, but since the late 19th century the term has applied to child dolls, usually made to hold in the arms, dress, and pose (either with elaborately made joints or with floppy cloth upper arms and thighs. In 1927 the friendship doll exchange involved the creation of 58 32" dolls representing little girls, to be sent as a gift from Japan to the United States, and the aesthetic of these dolls influenced doll makers to emulate this type of a solemn, gentle-looking little girl in elaborate kimono.

Their characteristic child-like appeal has made Ichimatsu dolls very popular with western collectors. Anyone who owns an Ichimatsu ningyo understands the sense of “soul” created by the doll artist as he brought the doll to life. Symbolic of the past, they are also an artful expression of the unique beauty of Japanese childhood.