Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kokeshi Column Vol.3

Kokeshi Dolls are mainly divided 2 major categories, DENTO (traditional) and SOUSAKU (Creative).

What are the differences?

“Dento Kokeshi Dolls” were made, conforming to traditional method. “Sousaku Kokeshi Dolls” were made from free imagination or idea of the artists.

Today, I would like to talk about “Dento Kokeshi Dolls”.

When Japanese people heard Kokeshi Doll, Dento Kokeshi Dolls come to their mind. Even we are saying Dento (Traditional), Dento Kokeshi Dolls was born at most 200-300 years ago. It is shorter history than other Japanese traditional crafts.We named Dento for the sake of convenience.

Techniques, forms, designs and so on were handed down from teachers to pupils.Each Kokeshi Doll developed in each area. It is same as the dialects or the differences of lifestyle. Moreover, each lineage has each technique. But we categorized Dento Kokeshi Dolls by the major 11 areas of Tohoku.

There are strict definitions to call Kokeshi Doll as Dento Kokeshi Dolls.

1. Kokeshi Dolls must be made by the family of Kokeshi artists or become a pupil of them.
2. Kokeshi Dolls must followed the definitions or rules.

Dento Kokeshi Dolls are divided in to 11 types.(There are opinions that is 10 types. But we take 11 types)

1.Tsuchiyu (Fukushima)
2.Yajiro (Miyagi)
3.Tougatta (Miyagi)
4.Zao (Yamagata)
5.Sakunami (Yamagata)
6.Yamagata (Yamagata)
7.Naruko (Naruko)
8.Hijiori (Yamagata)
9.Kijiyama (Akita)
10.Nanbu (Iwate)
11.Tsugaru (Aomori)
(I will talk about each type to you later on.)

There is no test in here about this so you don’t need to remember all the name of them. I thought I had to say at least this when I talk about Dento Kokeshi dolls.But maybe there are some people who absorbed them.

Lastly, I would tell you about a question that has no appropriate answer.

Why could Dento Kokeshi Dolls be found only in Tohoku?

Most of Japanese traditional crafts like lacquer wares spread to whole country of Japan.But Dento Kokeshi Doll didn’t. Why?

This is my personal opinion but, the master lives Tohoku area so pupil must go and live there to study about making Kokeshi Dolls.
Then, pupil became a master and next pupil came to this master who lives in Tohoku.And next pupil became next master….This cycle went over and over.

Tohoku might be the best place for Kokeshi dolls artists.Because there were so many materials (woods) to create Kokeshi dolls. So they might not leave there.

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