Kyo-Hina Dolls



Kyo-Hina Dolls





The Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) is coming up on March 3. Also known as the Momo no Sekku (Peach Festival), the origins of the Doll Festival are thought to stretch way back to the Heian period (794–1185). In imitation of a Chinese custom, on the first day of the snake in March (according to the Chinese zodiac), people would float paper images, substitutes for their children, in the river or sea and pray for their protection from accident and illness. Over the centuries the element of warding off evil spirits dimmed, and by the Edo period (1603–1868) the festival had become a colorful event linked to the girlish custom of playing with dolls. Since Hina dolls are part and parcel of the Doll Festival, IHCSA Café visited the Ando Ningyo Ten (Ando Japanese Doll Shop) in Kyoto, which crafts handmade Hina dolls one by one and places immense importance on maintaining the traditions of Kyoto culture. While observing the production process, I asked about the characteristics of Kyo-Hina (“made in Kyoto”) dolls, the meticulousness of the master artisans, and their feelings toward the dolls.

Characteristics of Kyo-Hina Dolls


The main characteristics of Kyo-Hina dolls are the fact that they are all crafted by hand using high-quality domestic materials and the fact that there is a clear-cut division of labor, with each part of the doll being made by an expert artisan with high-level skills in making a certain part. The doll’s head is made by a head-making master, its hair is made by a hair-fixing master, its hands and feet are made by a hands- and feet-making master, and finally coordination of the whole, giving shape to the doll, is done by a dressing master. Usually when we talk about a doll maker, we mean the dressing master. The Ando Japanese Doll Shop performs the work of a dressing master.
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