Edo Art Dolls

Saitama Tokyo

In the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868), a priest called Takahashi Tadashige is said to have been very proud of a small wooden doll that he had carved from scraps of willow which were left over from boxes used in a festival at Kamigamo shrine in Kyoto. Then using remnants of fabric from his priest's clothing, he dressed the doll by inserting the ends of the fabric into the wooden torso.
At first, they were called Kamigamo dolls after the place where they were made. Later, however, they were called kimekomi dolls because of the way that the fabric was inserted into slits in the wood, and the name stuck. Subsequently, they were brought to Edo (Tokyo) where the craft became established.

Now these dolls are made in a mold using a mixture of paulownia wood saw dust and a wheat starch glue. When they are hard, grooves are chiseled into the torso and the raw ends of the fabric are jammed into them to dress the dolls. A number of highly appeal dolls are still made, including representations of well-known Kabuki characters, popular figures from town and country and most prominently, dolls for the seasonal Hina Masturi in March and warrior dolls for Children's Day in May.

Feature

Edo Kimekomi Ningyo dolls are made in a mold using a mixture of paulownia wood saw dust and a wheat starch glue. When they are hard, grooves are chiseled into the torso and the ends of the fabric are tucked delicately and carefully into the grooves to dress the dolls.

How to make

To create the face, which is said to decide the very quality of a doll, the most diligent and experienced hand is needed for making the head of the doll. First, the paulownia saw dust and wheat starch glue mixture is pressed in a mold and then dried to produce the base of the head. Next, after countless layers of painting, the eyes, nose and mouth are carved, and then painted again, and then the entire piece is polished to produce the soft luster of natural skin. Then the eyebrows and eyes are drawn with a fine brush, blush is brushed on the cheeks and lipstick painted on the lips. Finally, the hair is set on the doll and then combed and set to finish the head.

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