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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Kokeshi dolls were very simple in design, originally made ??on hand-operated lathes.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.

Wax doll, rag doll

Wax doll, Rag doll (from the French Poupée de cire, Poupée de son), is probably the most famous song about dolls. This song performed by France Gall and composed by Serge Gainsbourg won the 1965 Eurovision and is considered one of the best Eurovision songs ever. Even though it is nearly 50 years ago, this song about dolls is always as enjoyable to listen to, so here we go:

As enjoyable as ever, the slim and beautiful France Gall was only 18 when she achieved this great success and shot to fame ever since.

Russian Dolls

Russian Dolls, also known as Matryoshka doll or Russian nesting dolls are a significant part of the Russian culture.

Crafted from wood and adorned with attractive paints they are placed one after the other in decreasing size. These dolls are tantamount of Russian handicrafts. Due to their uniqueness and attractiveness they are highly admired by people across the world.

Magnificent work of arts they can brighten up at any place of your home and is also a superb gift for any occasion.
History of Russian Nesting Dolls

Vasily Zvyozdochkin, a craftsman and a doll maker introduced these handmade Matryoshka dolls in 1890 which were painted by a folk craft painter, Sergey Malyutin. The basic theory of these dolls is to rest a smaller doll inside the biggest doll in a nested manner until the space is packed with the smallest little doll inside.

The number of dolls placed inside may vary depending upon the artist. Vasily creation’s was composed of eight dolls altogether. In his creation, the outmost stature was a girl adorning a traditional costume and holding a rooster while the smaller figures were some girls and a boy and the last and final stature was of an infant.

The inspiration behind Vasily Zvyozdochkin and Sergey Malyutin’s creation was a Japanese doll, which was either a hollow, rounded daruma doll or fukuruma nesting doll.

In 1900, the wife of Savva Mamontov, a Russian industrialist and patron of the arts presented these mesmerizing dolls in Paris at an international exhibition and they were not only internationally recognized but also awarded with a bronze medal. These acknowledgements inspired Russians and soon many craftsmen started creating beautiful nesting dolls.

Themes

Generally, a nesting set comprises of dolls with the same theme, that could be anything from “farm” “festivals” to “politicians”. When the outermost doll is taken off by separating the top and base, it exposes a doll underneath that is faintly smaller to it. This doll too will have a smaller doll inside which again will reveal the next smaller doll.

After opening dolls one after the other, the tiniest doll will emerge and this doll is not void and cannot be taken off or unscrewed. Conventionally, the quantity of dolls in a nesting set is anything from five to nine, however now, there are several sets that are even up to a dozen.

The initial Russian dolls were typically illustration of female peasants in Russia but today there are numerous diverse themes for you to select. Few of the common themes include flowers, caricatures, animals, portraits, musicians, Christmas, religion, Easter, athletes, politicians, movie stars, robots and astronauts.

Design, Shape and Pattern

Russian nesting dolls have a curved top and they are almost cylindrical in shape without any obtruding feature. In a conventional set, the outermost shape is usually of a woman embellished with a safaran while the smaller dolls are either female or male and the innermost doll, the tiniest one is an infant.
The term “Matryoshka” in the Russian language means “little matron” this is the prime reason why the outer doll is mainly a woman. The metaphors that are illustrated and painted on the Russian dolls can be very complex and the craftsman needs to have stupendous painting expertise as well as scrupulous attention to detail to craft them.

Rise and Fame of Barbie


Barbie is the most successful doll ever produced and this idea broke up in the mind of a mother. She had named the doll after her daughter Barbara in 1959. She was inspired by the way her daughter played with paper dolls giving them adult roles and dressing them up. She tried to find a good doll for her daughter, but the market did not have anything other than baby dolls. Elliot Handler, her husband was the co-founder of Mattel and she suggested that the company should release an adult doll, but he disregarded the idea.
The Barbie is a redesigned version of a doll named Bild Lilli and the first Barbie was released in 1959 at the International Toy Fair where the dolls were sold for 3$ with 1$ for extra clothing. But the fair was just an introductory mode and it failed to make its impact on the buyers. In the summer of 1959, Barbie sales simply boomed with stores rushing to stock their shelves with the Barbie dolls. The first Barbie doll was launched sporting a black and white striped swimsuit and she was pictured as a teenage model. The doll was named Barbie Millicent Roberts.
Ruth Handler along with Jacqueline Shannon, wrote “Dream Doll: The Ruth Handler Story”. The book says that the idea was initially taken down due to the fact that the detailing of the doll would make it relatively expensive. She finally became successful in convincing Mattel Company in 1957, to create the doll that she had designed. Within a few years after it release, the company had reached great heights. By 1960’s, the company began to release several Barbie accessories like Barbie house, wardrobe and accoutrements. 125 different Barbie versions have been created to date with different careers. There was an online voting open to people where they could suggest the 125th Barbie career and computer engineer was chosen to be the best option.
People wanted more from Barbie and they released Ken in 1961, named after Ruth’s son. Ken was released to partner Barbie and then Christie and Theresa were released as Hispanic and Afro-American dolls as Barbie’s friends, as well as Bertrand Grospellier, another male friend. Barbie then faced opposition and controversies due to the wrong impact that it was creating and its sex appeal. To fight this out, Mattel introduced Midge and Skipper to be Barbie’s younger sisters. The only issue is that there are no parent dolls.
The popularity of Barbie increased to such a level that several movies were released with Barbie as the main character. The popularity has even hyped the dress up Barbie games all over the internet. Girls love to give the best suited dress, haircut, hair color and make up to their Barbie doll. According to reports there are many adult women who are die-hard Barbie fans. They love to collect the dolls or at least play with their kids. Even after the numerous controversies faced by Barbie, it still remains to be the lady love and best friend of all the girls round the world.

Arab Dolls

Playthings That Arab Parents Are Comfortable Giving To Their Kids

Arab parents, and indeed people who have a conservative mindset, have quite a tough time when it comes to selecting playthings for their daughters. Little girls all over the world love to play with dolls. However, the choices available are severely limited. There are quite a few parents in the Arab world who disapprove strongly of the ubiquitous Barbie doll (and her friend Ken) for a variety of reasons. It is not just Barbie’s impossibly exaggerated body shape and revealing clothes that people have a problem with. It is also because of the values, or perceived lack of them, that these figures portray.
Certain toy manufacturers have realized that there is huge demand for playthings for little girls in the Arab world because Barbie and her like will never be accepted. There is a very large tradition of making play figures for little children to play with but parents want to be able to go to a departmental store and select something that looks modern and is packaged well. As a result, these manufacturers have come up with a variety of dolls that Arab girls can play with and also use as their role models. Not only do these little figures have distinctly Arab features with dark hair and brown eyes but they also dress modestly.
Jamila is one of the most popular Arab dolls available in the market today. Originally launched as a smart young woman, she is now sold as a happily married woman who looks after her family consisting of her husband Jamal and two children, Asad and Almira, a boy and a girl respectively. She wears the traditional black Abaya that many Arab Muslim women wear as a sign of modesty but she also wears other types of apparel as well (all of which will meet the approval of Muslim parents who want their daughters to remain modest).
Another popular plaything for girls in the Islamic world is Fulla. Her manufacturers customize her appearance to suit different Islamic markets and she comes in a variety of looks ranging from the highly conservative Abaya to the relatively modern looking dress and skirt. Even if she is wearing western clothes, she never shows off her knees or wears an outfit that is completely sleeveless.
Little Muslim girls from all over the world have a great time playing with these little dolls because they look exactly like the women in their immediate surroundings such as their mothers and aunts. Parents too prefer buying these toys because they reflect the values that they wish their daughters to have. In fact, many Middle Eastern countries ban the sale of western dolls because they do not conform to the ideals of Islam. Toys like Fulla and Jamila are widely accepted by parents because they serve as excellent role models to girls from the Muslim world. With their realistic looking bodies (with smaller breasts and darker skin) and conservative looking clothes, they are the perfect toy to buy for little girls who need good role models in a confusing modern world.