Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Black and White Tsuchiyu Kokeshi

The second of the nine new kokeshis that Naoko collected during her summer trip to Japan is this beautiful Tsuchiyu kokeshi 土湯系こけし by Mr. Abe Kunitoshi 阿部国 from Tsuchiyu Onsen in Fukushima Prefecture. We went to Tsuchiyu a couple of months after the March 2011 earthquake disaster and visited Mr. Abe's shop, but he wasn't in that day.
This kokeshi is 4 and 7/8ths inches high and is the first black and white (or really, black and wood) one that I believe I've seen. It has a light coating of wax to protect the paint, and it is a perfect example of a Tsuchiyu face, body design, and striping. If you look closely at the stripes on the body you'll notice some waves, and as I recall Tsuchiyu craftsmen create that effect by quickly forwarding and reversing the lathe as it spins. 
This top-down shot shows the circle pattern on the crown, the hair on the forehead, and a very nice floral pattern that bridges those elements nicely.
Tsuchiyu kokeshis tend to have a U-shaped nose, and Mr. Abe uses a noncommittal expression that I find appealing.
And finally here's Mr. Abe's very stylized signature on the bottom-- I must admit that it is completely indecipherable to me!

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