Traditional kokeshi originate in the late Edo period, the onsen of Tōhoku were popular among farmers, who visited in the off season to rest their weary bones. Artisans producing kokeshi learned that there was demand for their wares among these visitors and began coloring their creations, which until then had been plain wood. Red was the predominant color, used in the belief that it had the power to ward off evil and counteract smallpox and other maladies prevalent at the time. Reenergized by the healing onsen waters, farmers took these traditional kokeshi back to their villages as talismans and as lucky charms to ensure a bountiful harvest. Kokeshi given to children as toys carried with them the hope that the children would grow up strong and healthy.
This slim variety known as “sakunami” echoes the item’s original function as an easy-to-grasp children’s toy. The shoulders and base are turned on a potter’s wheel and the center of the trunk is often decorated with a motif of chrysanthemum with long, thin petals. This doll at Omnia is 30cm tall with artist signature on the bottom.
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