June 17, 2017 “The Art of the Japanese Doll” by Elaine and Doug B.

“The Art of the Japanese Doll” by Elaine and Doug B.

Synopsis and photos by Pat D.

Elaine and Doug Barr - presenters

      Members were wowed by a magnificent display of rare oriental dolls from Elaine and Doug’s private collection. Here were beautiful large child dolls, fierce warriors, silly characters all in varying materials. Doug had been raised around Japanese dolls thru family connections. Later he and Elaine began a wonderful collection together through travels and reestablishing those old connections and making new ones.

      1820 EDO Period – Very lightweight, fat baby look made from papier mache covered in Gofu.  Moosha Warrior Dolls were made of many layers of cloth and stuffed with straw.

      1920’s & 1930’s – Small egg shaped dolls represented prosperity and good luck. Big Sister Dolls or Bookmark Dolls were made from papers and had elaborate hairdos.

      National Treasure – Best of the best artists created dolls in all venues. Their processes are so time consuming and secretive that no one today can reproduce them.

      In the 1920’s the relations between Japan and USA were poor, so a project was started to promote peace and understanding. The children of the USA sent 12,739 American blue-eyed dolls to the children of Japan and they were distributed throughout Japan. In 1927, 58 dolls 32-33 inches in height were sent to Japan, The Friendship Dolls. These are not made of porcelain. The material is usually wood, wood composition or Gofu, made of oyster shell and animal glue. The best artisans created furniture, fans, special stands, passports, ship tickets, clothing, etc. to accompany each doll. The dolls were one of a kind  and signed by artist Ichi Matsu and are dressed in individual silk kimonos of breathtaking loveliness. In the USA, the dolls were placed in museums, libraries, etc. and many came to see them. Unfortunately, with the advent of WWII, the dolls were met with disdain and were hidden away or lost. Today, the dolls are revered once more for their striking beauty.

      Elaine and Doug’s large child dolls are reminiscent of the famous “Friendship Dolls”. They cannot be washed as it will dissolve, even fingerprints deteriorate them.

      They spoke of many traditions of the Japanese and the dolls, such as Hinamatsuri “or “Girls Day” occurring each March. The 1st daughter receives a set of special dolls. Rows and rows of dolls are set up on red carpet and can include Emperor and Empress and the royal court, warriors, courtesans, common folks, animals, etc.

      Other club members brought Japanese dolls to share; Barb J, Carol N and Sandy S.   All in all it was a wonderful program and display.


      Note to CDC Members: Please log onto our Shutterfly website so you may see all the photos of the doll display and show & share and travel dolls, plus pictures of our members enjoying the day.



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