Hakata Doll

Hakata Doll

The Hakata doll’s porcelain skin is synonymous with beautiful skin for Japanese women. In Japan, archeological evidence indicates that simple biscuit fired dolls were consumed at Buddhist temples in Hakata and Kamakura in the 12th century.  In the year 1600, Lord Nagamasa Kuroda came to Hakata province to become its governor, and many artists and craftsmen were summoned by his side. The ceramic dolls that emerged at this time are the root of Hakata dolls. In the late 19th century, prominent artists such as Soushichi Masaki boosted the reputation for Hakata’s doll making.  Hakata dolls then appeared in the 1890 National Industrial Exhibition in Japan and the 1890 National Industrial Exhibition in Japan and in 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris, where they received increased international recognition.

Hakata doll making begins with creating a clay model based on a design. One uses plaster to make a mold for each part of the doll. If the doll requires a lot of detail, up to a dozen plastered molds are sometimes produced. The clay is then placed inside a mold and fired. Afterwards, the face is painted with powdered seashells that make it lustrous and white. Next, kimono or other details are also painted onto the doll. The most delicate and difficult work comes at the end of the process. In order to perfect the face, which is called Menso, the artist uses a less than one millimeter ultra-thin brush to paint the mouth, eyes and eye brows. After all these steps, at last a Hakata doll is born.

Hakata Dolls have various staple characters, and the most popular one is without a doubt the “Beautiful one”, a representation of a beautiful kimono lady.  This Hakata doll’s gorgeously smooth face and beauty is the dream of many Japanese women.


Photo by Fukuoka City

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