Ancient Art of Japan Kokeishi Dolls

Ancient Art of Japan: Kokeishi Dolls

Ancient Art of Japan: Kokeishi Dolls
By: N. Daniel

Kokeishi are a simplistic form of wooden dolls found only in the Tohoku area of Japan. The ?ko? of Kokeishi means ?child?and ?keishi? means erasing. These special dolls are surrounded by an air of mystery, as their point of origin is somewhat unknown.

There are several theories about how the Kokeishi dolls came to be. The first is the most controversial. About 100 years or so ago it was not uncommon for peasant families to have to abort children or sell them into slavery in order to ensure their family?s survival. It is said (very quietly) that these Kokeishi dolls were created to comfort grieving mothers and/or to console the spirits of the erased children. The doll?s head often squeaks when twisted gently, to mimic the cries of a child. There is very little written literature in print today to substantiate this theory as the guild of Kokeishi makers controls what is published about them.

The next theory comes from the worship of a deity called ?Oshira-sama.? This deity, in the shape of a stick with a simple face painted at one end and wrapped

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