Japanese Hakata Dolls
Japanese Hakata dolls are traditional clay dolls that originate from the Japanese city of Fukuoka.
History & Description
It is widely accepted that Hakata dolls (Japanese; Hakata ningyō) were first created in seventeenth century Hakata, which was a district in Fukuoka before the city merger in 1889. The clay dolls were presented to the ruler of Hakata at that time, Kuroda Nagamasa, and were also offered as gifts to Buddhist temples.
Hakata dolls were displayed at the National Industrial Exhibition in Japan in 1890 and were celebrated during the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900.
During the American occupation of Japan following World War II, Hakata dolls became very popular with American soldiers, who took them back to the United States as souvenirs and presents. Japan started exporting Hakata dolls worldwide shortly afterwards.
Guide for collectors
Hakata dolls are valued according to their condition, age and the reputation of the artisan who created them. The majority of dolls have stickers on the bottom which provides this information.
Instances of Hakata dolls sold through national auctions are relatively common. Collectors can also purchase vintage and contemporary Hakata dolls items on internet bidding sites, such as eBay and Trocadero.
For more detailed information on specific doll characteristics and how these may affect an item’s price, “Japanese Dolls: The Fascinating world of Ningyō”, by Alan Scott, is a worthwhile reference book.
Notable auction sales
On June 11th 2005 at TriGreen Company in Temple City, California, a Japanese Hakata erotica sex hotei doll realised a price of $320.
On January 24th 2010 at Burchard Galleries in St. Petersburg, Florida, a collection of twenty-two Japanese Hakata dolls realised a price of $300.
On February 1st 2009 at Showplace Antique & Design Centre in New York, a Japanese Hakata Court Doll, circa 1950s, realised a price of $275.
On December 14th 2008 at Showplace Antique & Design Centre in New York, a Japanese Hakata Court Doll, circa 1950s, realised a price of $225.
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