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Gosho-ningyo (174)

Palace doll
Kiri wood (Paulownia), gofun (whitewash), silk, human hairs
Edo period, late 18th century
H.: 39 cm

A plump child with thick black hair and brilliant white skin is a characteristic representation of gosho-ningyo. It is said that gosho-ningyo first appeared in the emperor’s palace in the seventeenth century as gifts conveying auspicious wishes from the emperor to daimyo who visited the court to pay respects. This piece was carved of Paulownia wood covered with layers of fine gofun and burnished to create a shiny, porcelain-like effect. Human hair was used. It corresponds to the earliest examples. Later forms employed toso wood composite, papier-mâché, or even clay for the basic shape, in order to reduce cracking over time. The size of this piece is unusual, as most examples are under 25cm high.

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