Japanese doll culture

A fascinating article on ningyo (dolls): Unlikely expert figures in Japanese doll exhibit. From the article:

Pate, who has devoted more than a decade to this topic, says Japanese doll culture dates back to 4000 B.C. Many were made for household displays, erected by families to mark the annual Girl’s Day or Boy’s Day festivals. Others appeared at street festivals, entertaining crowds with scenes from Japanese history or folklore. They range from simple miniatures, only a few inches tall, to 5-foot-tall creatures with limbs that were moved by hidden operators.

And the costumes! Each fabric, each weave, was heavy with meaning – and danger. Competition among ningyo manufacturers was so fierce, the government eventually regulated the trade.

“Dollmakers were arrested and banished for violating limitations on the dolls’ heights and materials,” Pate said. “The back-stories behind these dolls are full of drama.”

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A quick update about the site: I’ve asked a very knowledgeable friend, Safran, to join as a co-author. However, like me, Safran is extremely busy, and kimono require time and patience. Also, I still don’t have a digicam to photograph my kitsuke attempts, thus the sporadic posts of late. I miss being able to post here and sincerely hope I’ll get more opportunities soon!

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