Friday, April 11, 2014

Antique Kokeshis 2 中古こけし 2

A couple of weeks ago Naoko and I discovered that our local antique shop had some really great kokeshis for sale, of which I showed two Tsugaru kokeshis in the previous blog entry. Among the others we found were three Nambu kokeshis 南部系こけし from Iwate Prefecture 岩手県. As with most Nambus, these three have kina-kina (bobble) heads, and all are in beautiful condition despite their age which I estimate to be 26-30 years based on the information written in pencil on the bottom.

The first is, I believe, from 1984 and was likely created by Mr. Matsumoto Tsuruji 松本鶴治さん who was from Hanamaki City 花巻市 in central Iwate. The reason I suspect, but cannot be sure, that Mr. Matsumoto was the craftsman of this kokeshi is the signature on the bottom. The first character is probably "Matsu" 松 while the second is definitely "Tsuru" 鶴, which are the first characters of Mr. Matsumoto's family and given names. So, a bit of a mystery, but I'm fairly confident that this is correct. It's not a particularly outstanding kokeshi, but since Nambus are rare it is nonetheless special. Mr. Matsumoto may actually still be alive (aged 92), but he is no longer making kokeshis.
The mystery signature that's most likely that of Mr. Matsumoto.
The next two Nambu Kokeshis are by Mr. Sasaski Kakuhei 佐々木覚平さん who passed away in 2007. The first one is a relatively small and nice-looking kokeshi. I would have had a hard time identifying it if not for the penciled information on the bottom giving the last name.
Signed with just his first name: Kakuhei 覚平.
The last kokeshi is another piece by Mr. Sasaki, and this one is fairly large and definitely special as one knows it's a Nambu upon looking at it. The big giveaway is the classic Nambu shape -- bulky in the chest area and narrow at the bottom, which is perfect for a child's grip (or that of a serious kokeshi collector!). Based on my research this striping pattern is also unique to Nambu kokeshis. Overall, this beautiful piece has been a very welcome addition to our collection.
A nice, thoughtful, serene face.
The back of the head has this colorful dot pattern in light blue, red, and yellow, matching the striping colors. Quite striking, and also unique to this branch of Nambu kokeshis.
Like the above kokeshi Mr. Sasaki signed it with his first name only. The the three-character word says "Nambu-kei" 南部系. 
Overall I consider these three kokeshis to have been quite a find since they are in great condition, and also because Nambus tend to be hard to find.
Our three "new" Nambu kokeshis with their heads turned.

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