Traditional Arts and Crafts-Dolls

Dolls have played a part in the life of the Japanese people since time immemorial. Clay figurines have been discovered among protohistoric relics, and haniwa clay images  have been unearthed from ancient burial mounds.

Bunraku, one of the traditional theater arts of Japan, is a large-scale puppet drama in which big dolls are manipulated to show the action of the play. Warrior-dolls are displayed during the Boys’ Festival, and colorful hina dolls during the Girls’ Festival.


A tremendous variety of dolls of both Japanese and European style, are manufactured in Japan nowadays. The most popular are the hakata and kokeshi dolls.

Hakata dolls, which are moulded from cay, then painted, are the speciality of Fukuoka prefecture in Kyushu, the southern island. Hakata dolls, which are characterized by a finely detailed realism and by the colors used, depict subjects old and new and from every land, such as beautiful women from all periods of history, and kabuki actors. Kokeshi are the traditional wooden dolls made in the north-eastern region of Japan. The dolls consist of a cylindrical torso, turned out on a lathe. A round head is fitted on the torso and a girl’s face drawn in. Two or three colors, such as red, blue or yellow, are used to paint lines or a chrysanthemum design on the body. While unsophisticated, the face and colors give kokeshi dolls a certain rustic charm that is hard to deny.

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人 形

日本の原始時代の遺跡から土の人形(土偶)が発見され、古代の古墳から埴輪人形が出土するなど大昔から日本人と人形の関係は切り離せない。日本の伝統芸術 の一つである文楽は、大きな人形をあやつりながら演ずる大規模な人形劇である。男の子の節句には武者人形を飾り、女の子の節句には華美な雛人形を飾る。

日 本で現在つくられている人形の種類は、ヨーロッパ式も含め非常に多い。もっともポピュラーなものは「博多人形」と「こけし」であろう。「博多人形」は、土 で形をるくり、素焼きにしてから彩色するもので、九州福岡県の特産である。写実的で繊細な姿態と彩色を特徴とし、模写に優れ、世界各国の風俗、古今の美人 画、歌舞伎俳優など新しい題材をこなしている。「こけし」は、東北地方伝統の木製人形である。ろくろでひいた円筒形の胴体に、丸い頭をつけて女の子の顔を 描き、胴体に赤、青、黄など2〜3色で線や菊の花の模と様を描く。素朴なものであるが、面相や彩色にひなびた味があって捨てがたい。

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