Vintage Japanese Yamato-ningyo or Ichimatsu
Gofun Boy Doll
This13.5 inch Japanese doll from the 1940's or 1950's depicts a young Japanese child. It aresimilar in style to dolls pictured in Japanese Dolls by Tokubei Yamada, and labeled as "Yamato-ningyo of the most common type". Big brown inset eyes with handpainted eyebrows and detailed red lips. I believe it is wood composition dolls with a gofun finish. The hair feels synthetic and has a red tinge to it. The kimono is a beautiful brocade and are hand stitched. Very nicely detailed. T is a small chip and two very small scratches on the face, and he is missing a section of hair on the back of his head.
These dolls are commonly called Yamato-ningyo or Ichimatsu. Yamato-ningyo were first produced at the end of the Meiji era (1868-1912). These dolls represented the spirit of the Japanese child. A Yamato-ningyo dollmaker usually learned his art from his father or a master, and dollmaking skills were passed down from generation to generation. These dolls were dressed with great care, with clothes and accessories made as miniture replicas of larger pieces that were actually worn and used.
According to a book called Japanese Antique Dolls by Jill and David Gribbon, the Ichimatsu dolls were the first Japanese dolls to have a naturalistic body. The Ichimatsu nomenclature was derived from a famous Kabuki actor, Sanogawa Ichimatsu I of Kyoto (1722-63). The first Ichimatsu dolls had faces modeled after this famous actor, but soon his face was replaced by a variety of innocent children faces. The oldest Ichimatsu dolls were frequently called mitsu-ore ningyo because they were triple jointed at their hips, knees, and ankles. The heads of the mitsu-ore ningyo were usually made of composition, and their bodies of either carved wood or paper mache. Some dolls bent at the waist, while others had hollow tummies jointed with silk or paper. These triple jointed dolls were playthings for adult women and children from affluent families and had elaborate, elegant clothing and accessories. While some dolls had hair, other dolls were bald, and still others had several wigs that could be interchanged to suit different costumes. The dolls were made as large as 2 feet tall, and in general these larger dolls were of finer quality. While some Ichimastu dolls have makers marks, these marks were used for many generations, so they are not much help in determining the exact age of these dolls.
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