Kokeshi Dolls are from northern Japan. They are handmade from wood, have a simple body, big head with a few thin lines as facial features. The body has a floral design painted in red, black, yellow, and is covered with lacquer. One basic characteristic of these wooden Japanese dolls is absence arms or legs. The bottom is signed by the artist.
The dolls have spiritual significance of wishing for a healthy child. Unpainted kokeshis, were originally used as massage tools by spas. The name 'kokeshi' itself is thought to derive from a combination of names given to the wooden dolls according to the various areas of their manufacture.
Kokeshi were first made by artisan at the Shinchi Shuraku, near Miyagi Prefecture from where it spread to Tohoku Region. It was made at the onset on 15th century to be sold to visitors at the hot springs in the north-east of Japan. Very old Kokeshi are considered antiques and are sold as collectibles.
Significance of Kokeshi Dolls
• Kokeshi are generally bought by Japanese as mementos and sold worldwide as souvenirs. They have gained their importance worldwide because of their simple features but charming looks.
• Kokeshi doll is considered a lucky charm and is often bought in the belief that she will protect a home against fire since it is made from water tree. They are also seen as charms to prevent fires or even ward off evil.
• Kokeshi dolls traditionally represented young girls and they quickly became popular for portraying their feminine beauty. In addition their simple charm and association with childhood meant that they were often given as gifts when a child was born, as birthday present or as symbols of remembrance when a child died. Thus dolls have spiritual significance of wishing for a healthy child.
• Children of farmers used to play with Kokeshi Dolls as it was considered it would mean a good harvest. It would create a positive notion on the gods if children played with the dolls.
Wooden Japanese dolls collectors lay special importance on the facial quality of the Kokeshi dolls, wanting certain types like shy or mischievous or gentle etc.

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This article was written by Vikas Kapadia of Meena Handicrafts. russiandollsandtoys.com is a wholesale matryoshka dolls and wooden toys website where you can find beautiful wooden dolls and toys of good quality.