Kokeshi doll by Yamanaka Sanpei small
This vintage kokeshi doll by kokeshi master Sanpei is an excellent mid century modern kokeshi. Simple shape focusing on the woodgrain and minimalist facial features. 22cm tall with artist stamp on the bottom makes this doll highly collectable from the 1960’s and paired with the larger version is an iconic mid century modern art form
Rather than develop a career in Traditional Yamagata doll making, Yamanaka-san used his art background to join the Sosaku Kokeshi movement. A multiple award winner, he won the Ministry of Education Award at the all Nippon Modern Kokeshi Exhibition in 1979.
Yamanaka-san creates wonderfully-painted and decorated dolls in many forms and shapes. He may utilize a palette of soft watercolor rings in the Rokuro-moyo manner, to create a suggestion of a rainbow, because in Buddhism, the rainbow is “the highest state achievable before attaining Nirvana, where individual desire and consciousness are sublimated”. On numerous occasions, Yamanaka adds painted flowers to add to the overall dimension of the garment that it is representing. This is not to say that he does not enjoy the natural qualities of wood. Controlled carving adds textures that are neat, random, and sometimes repetitive, and provide decoration to his dolls. The carving contrasts nicely to the natural grain of wood. Dolls portray wonderful traditional hairstyles through the use of “chattering’ and controlled carving. His head and facial designs are most expressive, particularly with figures of children.
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