From 19th Century beginnings as wood-carved gifts of love and friendship, the Japanese Kokeshi doll has been brought up-to-date in Mayco’s Asian Princess.
Kokeshi are handmade wood Japanese dolls with simple frames, enlarged heads with a few thin lines defining the face, and bodies designed with red, black and sometimes yellow floral motifs. Kokeshi dolls characteristically lack arms and legs and the bottoms are marked with the artist’s signature.
Watch a Japanese Kokeshi Doll emerge from a spinning block of wood here!
Originally a folk toy for kids, Kokeshi are now considered traditional artwork and are the most popular Japanese folk craft. Over the years, this folk craft evolved into “Traditional” and “Creative” Kokeshi. “Traditional” Kokeshi have shapes and patterns specific to certain regions and types and are made today by Kokeshi artists called Kiji-Shi (woodworker in Japanese) who have been making them for generations, passing down the art from master to apprentice. “Creative” Kokeshi came about after World War II and give artists the freedom of shape, design and color with no ties to a region.
The modern day Kimmidoll™ by TAG took its inspiration from the traditional Kokeshi doll in designing it’s brand, just as the Kokeshi inspires Mayco’s Asian Princess.
At Mayco, we encourage you to be “Creative” when designing your own Asian Princess (MB-1246). Make your Asian Princess punk with pink hair, Goth in all black, traditional Japanese in Kimono with flowers, as a biker chick, or dress her up holding ballet shoes for the little ballerina in your life. Create several based on a theme – love, happiness, spring, summer, butterflies, etc. – or make several to give as gifts of love and friendship. You can even make one to help kids understand a love-one’s illness much like the Kimmie Cares doll created and named after a Cincinnati woman recovering from breast cancer to help her daughter understand her illness (http://www.kimmiecares.com/store/pc/home1.html)
No matter how you dress her up, our Asian Princess is sure to reflect your style – and she’ll even help you show your style by helping you put money in the “bank.”
For more information on Kokeshi dolls, check out these sites:
- Northern Japanese Traditional Kokeshi by Shirlee Funk (on the Asie Exotique website). Pictures of Kokeshi on the same site.
- Kokeshi: Wooden Treasures of Japan; by Michael Evans and Robert Wolf. 232 pages, 224 color plates is a 2005 publication that might be helpful in studying Kokeshi.
- Yakushi Kokeshi-do - a page showing a temple decorated with Kokeshi in traditional ritual offerings.
- Miyagi Kokeshi Doll Association - a quick tour of the areas in which different styles of Kokeshi doll decoration thrive.
- Nancy's Kokeshi Page - great illustrations of a range of Kokeshi.
- Japan Atlas: Naruko Kokeshi - Kokeshi from the Sendai area.