The Kokeshi are traditional Japanese dolls from the North of Japan created 150 years ago by Kiji-Shi craftsmen. They were originally wooden toys, but they have become decorative dolls offered in the Japanese tradition to declare one’s friendship and love to the person who receives it.
The modern history of Japanese Kokeshi dolls began in the latter part of the Edo era (1603-1867). Coming from the region of northern Japan Tohiku, famous for its hot springs and rejuvenating waters, Kokeshi dolls have served as important source of additional income for local artisans known as the Kijiya (meaning the wood worker in Japanese), who specialize in woodworking and production of household utensils such as trays and wooden bowls. In severe winters these Kijiya craftsmen began making Kokeshi Dolls to sell as souvenirs to visitors who frequented the local hot springs. The dolls acted not only as souvenirs but also as massage tools used by the bathers to tap their shoulders whilst enjoying the benefits of heating the hot springs.
Kokeshi dolls were very simple in design, originally made ??on hand-operated lathes. Traditional Kokeshi dolls had common characteristics that are composed of a cylindrical limbless body base and a round head. Though the first dolls might have been unpainted, today most Kokeshi are painted in bright floral designs, kimonos and other traditional models. The colors used were red, yellow and purple. As all dolls are hand painted, no two faces are alike. This is perhaps the greatest charm of the Kokeshi dolls . Some dolls are whimsical, happy and smiling, while others are serious.
In the category of beautiful Asian wooden dolls, another famous and original type of products are the dolls from Bali. Indonesia is made of hundreds of islands and each has a separate culture, this is a real melting pot with hundreds of millions of people, you bet. And Bali is one of the most unique of these islands, with a distinctive culture. This includes architecture, cuisine, temples, religion, danse, and last but not least wooden dolls and story telling.
There was once a pretty young princess abducted by a demon. The prince went in search of help from his brother and the bird Jatayu and Hanuman the monkey general. The show blends the shadow puppets and Balinese dances. All the characters are presented as puppets while the main characters are also danced. To do the male characters these are represented by half-mask while that of Princess Sita is a dancer without a mask. A beautiful spectacle if you have not seen it yet.