- Other Fiber Crafts
- Pottery and Porcelain
- Buddhist Altars and Accessories
- Miscellaneous Crafts
- Craft Materials
The word "ningyo" in Japanese includes figures and figurines as well as dolls. "Doll" connotes a "toy," something actively used by a child for play and pleasure. "Figure" and "figurine" are applicable when a doll becomes an object of decoration alone or takes on some function, like a lamp base or mantlepiece accessory. The step from figurine to sculpture is a very small one. This category, thus, includes the entire range from doll to sculpture. Included here are one type of folk doll, four art doll industries, and one miniature doll accessory craft. All are associated with regions or cities of Japan.
Kokeshi are minimalist figures made in the northern region of Japan. Basically, a kokeshi is made of two simple lathed pieces of wood--a cylindrical body, with a somewhat thicker and rounded head. A few thin, painted lines define the face, and the body has a floral design painted in red, black, and sometimes yellow. Like all truly simple things, a kokeshi is difficult to make well.
Proportion and style must be just right. Today they are collector's items or souvenirs, gracing the knickknack shelves of the entire nation.
Hakata ningyo (Hakata Art Dolls) are low-fired, bisque clay figures from the city of Fukuoka in northern Kyushu, now made as art pieces. Until plaster mold technology was adopted at the end of the last century, the dolls were made in bisque-fired pottery press molds. Skin areas of a figure are coated with gesso (a lime-glue preparation). The remainder of the decoration is painted directly onto the pottery surface.
Kyoto and Edo Art Dolls are the types most people associate with Japan. The Kyoto Art doll has a history in excess of a millennium. There are a number of types, the most famous being the Doll Festival and Boy's Festival dolls and the highly sophisticated and elaborate art pieces, some of which are true sculptures. The making of the face, addition of hair, and the elaborate costumes involve a division of labor and different workshops, incorporating complex skills and highly developed techniques. Edo Art Dolls are made in Tokyo and in the town of Iwatsuki, north of Tokyo. These figures also have elaborate costumes, applied to a sawdust-composition body by a system of clever tucks and insertions into grooves in the body.