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 Post subject: What do you want to know? - Japanese Dolls
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:19 pm 
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Favorite Geiko: Ichisayo
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So, some months ago, Vogel asked me if I would put up some information on dolls, and I told her I would try over the summer. Today, I realized that summer has come and gone, and I really must apologize. I've been far too busy, mainly for the fact that I picked up a second job. Unfortunately, my loyal computer of 7 years, yes, 7 years, completely and utterly died. Motherboard failure from what I can tell, anyways, I needed to come up with money for a new one, so, that has sucked up a lot of time.

Secondly, the sad fact is, I do not even know where to begin discussing dolls! So, I had the *hot* idea to put up a thread for dolls like we have in the Geisha forum. I think this format will allow me to do bits and pieces and direct it towards what people in the Geisha and Japanese culture fandom would really like to know about Japanese dolls, though I'm not an expert myself, nor do I think there are too many experts on Japanese dolls in the Western world. There is extremely limited information out there, and most of what I've learned is all from hands on and restoration. To be perfectly honest, there's far less information on Japanese dolls than there is on Geisha, but I'll do my best to help out any people who have a budding interest in this topic!

Anyways, ask away!


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 Post subject: Re: What do you want to know? - Japanese Dolls
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:27 pm 
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Minarai
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Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:17 am
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Location: Upstate NY
Favorite Geiko: Ichiwaka Kyouka
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I remember reading in Mineko Iwasaki's book, she talks a bit about how, when she was a minarai, she was attending an Ozashiki and got distracted by these dolls on a shelf in the room. I have absolutely NO knowledge, whatsoever about Japanese dolls so, I was wondering if you know anything about the kind of dolls those might be? I believe that there was a picture of them in the copy I have.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you want to know? - Japanese Dolls
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:29 pm 
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The Okasan
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About Mineko Iwasaki, it was the dolls for Hina Matsuri. A photo was taken that day (what a chance !) :
http:[email protected]/6824653844/

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 Post subject: Re: What do you want to know? - Japanese Dolls
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:05 am 
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Minarai
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Favorite Geiko: Ichiwaka Kyouka
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Yes! That is the photo I was talking about! Perfect! :)

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 Post subject: Re: What do you want to know? - Japanese Dolls
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:33 pm 
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Definitely Hina dolls. They usually come in a set of the Emperor, the Empress, three ladies in waiting ( look a lot like shrine maidens ) and then lots of retainers and such.

They're very common dolls, since most families will have a set, and since they are not play dolls and only are displayed at one point of the year, they're easy to find in good condition. Even Meiji era dolls can be found pretty easily and quite cheap at that.

Todays Hina dolls are not made of gofun ( traditional oyster shell paste ) but a plastic composite, as are MOST Japanese dolls made today ( minus high quality Ichimatsu dolls ). They are generally quite small, standing no more than six inches tall, seated, but I have seen 12inch tall Hinas here and there.

And speaking of gofun dolls, I have found a rather miraculous way to clean them. You cannot use water to clean gofun, it's super sensitive to moisture. However, pencil eraser is working quite well on this 31inch Ichimatsu I'm working on, so if you have dirty gofun dolls, it might be something to try, but be careful. This is the only doll I've used it on, so no guarantees.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you want to know? - Japanese Dolls
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:20 pm 
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Minarai
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I did a blog entry on Hina dolls this march.
http://kimono-san.blogspot.com/2012/03/ ... dolls.html


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 Post subject: Re: What do you want to know? - Japanese Dolls
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:57 pm 
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Shikomi
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...I'd be curious to know about these. I've picked up a few at a local thrift mart- and while I don't know much about Japanese dolls, I at least know enough about textiles to pick up ones likely to be authentic (none of the ones in Chinese brocade, for instance.)

I guess I'm being kind of selfish, but I'd like to know what I have and how old they are... :'(

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 Post subject: Re: What do you want to know? - Japanese Dolls
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:55 pm 
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Hihi, Supergrouper, I'm going to answer your questions and then tangent, if you don't mind, on some things I was planning to write anyways. :)

They're not terribly old, I'd say 70's to 80's going by the textiles and the styling of the dolls. The smaller doll is a kimekomi doll, which refers the way her body and kimono are molded and then the silk is applied over so that she is a solid figure. The Geisha doll is definitely 70's and 80's range, and not Taisho. :P A Geiko doll being dressed in brocade is nearly a dead give away. Brocade silk is much cheaper today to produce than thin silk, though it used to be the opposite. A lot of the brocade used in more modern Japanese dolls has plastic threading, or uses a lot of import Chinese thread, making it cheaper to produce and use than fine crepe silk.

Most earlier Japanese dolls did not have a lot of brocade, unless it was for their obi, or if they depicted an outfit that called for brocade, like kamishimo, or an uchikake. Otherwise, most dolls, pre-1960's will be thin silk.

Also, if you notice your doll's hair, they're synthetic fibers, older dolls will have natural fiber hair, that takes on a sort of patina with age, or fades in some instances, especially if the doll has fading on her kimono as well. It also has a different sheen, or less sheen. Synthetic fiber hair is much shinier.

Her stand also, if you notice the edging? It's plastic, so, you wouldn't see that in older dolls. Most dolls either had a single plank of lacquered kiri wood, or would be built of thin pieces of unfinished, lacquered or painted kiri wood. Other, fancier dolls, may have a stand with some tatami, but that's unusual.

Her head and shoulder plate are another thing that dates her. I've seen her face mold, and it's a fairly common mold. The thing is, a lot of people think there are just cloth dolls and gofun dolls, but after the 1960's, the production of gofun went into steep decline, and doll makers stopped using it, and instead went for using cheaper, easier, and hardier materials. As well as being a complicated material to use, and expensive ( I'll explain in a moment ) it's also extremely fragile. It is very sensitive to temperature change, humidity and it's much softer than bisque or American composition. ( Gofun is classified as a composition doll material, again, I'l detail later ) However, nothing looks as lovely as gofun, but Japanese doll makers surely did try to replicate its look while saving money and gaining a more lasting doll.

In the 1960's and on until today, Japanese doll makers use mixes of resins, plastics and plasters to make their dolls, and they're often used in molds, so many of the dolls look the same, which is quite the departure from most gofun dolls. ( Gofun CAN be used in molds, but it's very rare. ) Today, I only really see the Ichimatsu ( play dolls ) that use gofun on a normal basis, and I doubt it is real gofun, and more likely a plaster or a gesso material versus gofun.

Your doll is most likely, from what I can tell from the photos, is a plaster or resin doll, and her head looks like resin and her hands look like plaster.

The reason Gofun is so expensive is the fact that it takes months to make. Gofun is made from the shiny, mother-of-pearl like white of oyster shells. The oyster shells are collected into a midden, where they are allowed to rot in the hot summer months, until the white part of the oyster shell can be collected, powdered, which is then called gofun shirayuki. The shirayuki is then mixed with a vehicle or glue, ( from my research, either rabbit hide glue, or different bone glues ) upon which the gofun is ready to be used. It is then applied to a wood or wood pulp form ( hence why gofun dolls are classified as composition dolls, as they're composed of two or more materials. Usually, the form is made from a mold ( similar to 1930's to 1940's American doll making ) of pressed wood pulp, but today, what few gofun dolls ARE made(minus the aforementioned ichimatsu dolls), are made from hand-carved wooden forms, where the gofun is applied in many and many layers, until the artist is satisfied. The gofun, in a way, must be sculpted around the form, as the form is often very rough and only a slight outline. How are the eyes inset, you ask? They're usually applied to the form, and the gofun applied over. In finishing, the lids and such are carved out, and moistened to remove the excess gofun over the glass eyes. To finish the gofun to give it its beautiful sheen, the material is then burnished, which given the fragility of gofun, is a tricky process to say the best.

Just in that small description, you can see why doll makers today generally do make gofun dolls and make plastic or resin dolls like your's. As far as I've found, there is only one company in Japan that still makes gofun shirayuki. That is it.

And for the fragility, like all composition dolls, you have to realize that if you have a doll made out of two very different materials, you have to realize these two materials react very differently to temperature and humidity changes. In American and Japanese composition dolls, most are constructed of a wood pulp and glue core or inner shell, and wood does what wood does when it gets hot and moist. It expands. The actual gofun does not really react badly to heat, nor light humidity ( moisture is extremely bad for it however ) but it is a very brittle material, and when the inner woodpulp expands. . .it cracks. American composition does the same thing, but on a smaller level, and we call it 'crazing,' in most instances, though in bad cases, the dolls can crack and split as well.

Gofun dolls will commonly have cracks. Especially along the joining seams of the wood pulp mold. The sides of the neck, the sides of the arms, etc, is where gofun generally splits. It is not normally a major issue, though fussy collectors will turn their nose up at a gofun doll with neck cracks. :P

If you ever, or anyone else here, acquire a gofun doll, it can be easily id'd as gofun by such cracks. On preventing such cracks in gofun dolls, you want to keep them in a cool, dry place. I've heard some ninnies trying to say that you should keep a cup of sake in with the doll, and this is utter rubbish and from my guesses, someone who wanted to, huh, I guess exocticize Japanese dolls, and made this up. Doing such could damage the doll. Sake is liquid, and if your doll is in a case, it can create a moisture trap, and the last thing you want is the doll getting condensation. Condensation damage to gofun produces a mottling and freckling to the gofun that is pretty much impossible to fix unless you were to repaint the face with a new layer of gofun, and even then, the old condensation damage may leech back into the new layer(because sanding will not fix it as the condensation dark spots leech into the lower layers. Trust me, I've tried to fix this sort of damage, it doesn't work ). ( Also, painting a new layer of gofun is an exercise in finesse and detail. . . )

Your best friend with ANY doll, and I really do stress any doll, Japanese, American, Jamaican, whatever, is to keep the doll in a stable environment. 65-75F is ideal in a perfect world. A dehumidifier is your best friend. Keeping your doll out of natural light is also a good idea. Don't display your dolls in a room with a massive picture window that lets in lots of sunlight for instance. Sunlight is just as damaging as moisture in a lot of ways, especially over a long length of time.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you want to know? - Japanese Dolls
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:42 am 
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Shikomi
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Thank you SO MUCH! :D I've updated their descriptions now (with a credit link back here, of course. :D )

I'm actually relieved to find out that they're more recent, because... well, when I bought the taller one, I noticed that she was wearing a Heian-looking brocade, and in the back of my mind I was toying with "borrowing" her kimono for a Heian doll custom. (>///<;) (Finding small-scale Heian brocades has been a nightmare...) I suppose if I'm careful removing it, it won't damage the doll... I'm thrilled she's not an actual antique. (TT_TT)

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 Post subject: Re: What do you want to know? - Japanese Dolls
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:34 am 
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No problem.

You won't bother me about taking her apart. They aren't what I collect, and most of them are tourist dolls ( another reason a lot of doll makers wanted to use different materials. As if tourists would know gofun if it came up and smacked them! ) Good luck on pulling the pins, or even more luck to you if she's got a glued clothes on.

If you had caught me a year or so ago on this, I would've had a bag full of that sort of brocade that I bought as a lot *years* ago for doll scrap, and found that everything was just too modern for what I was working on, but I had the skirts and top portions of the kimonos and good sized ones for making into BJD kimono. I did manage to sell a couple of them off as sets to some BJD enthusiasts, but I ended up tossing the rest of stuff into a big lot for one of my buyers. IF I manage to find a few stray pieces ( which is possible, given me ), I can let you know.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you want to know? - Japanese Dolls
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:23 pm 
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Shikomi
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Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 3:16 pm
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A few months ago I purchased an Orian doll. Her head, hands, and feet are cloth
and very nicely done. Do they still make these cloth dolls in Japan today 2016?
They said she is from the 80's. Orian are hard to find and can be very expensive.
I wish I could locate another one.


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