I plan to spend some time and several posts on this subject. Asia is rich in doll history, and early doll collector and historian Laura B. Starr is an excellent source for those who want to study the origins of ancient and rare dolls, some no longer thought of. Chapter VI of her book is entitled "Oriental Dolls." She talks at length about Korean, Chinese, and Japanese Dolls. She also talks about Asian dolls in her chapter on Dolls with Supernatural Powers [allegedly!]. My Friends at The Haunted Doll Museum would love this!
Starr also quotes from books and writers contemporary to her, like Stewart Culin, who wrote on Korean Games. She descrives a doll called Ot-tok-i or "erect standing one." This was a paper doll, 3D,w ith a rounde bottom weigthed with clay. The doll often depticts a woman riding a tiger. Starr goes on to discuss Daruma type dolls from China or Japan. My friend Mary Hillier defined the term Daruma in her book Dolls and Doll Makers to mean "Stand up Little Priest." Think of our modern punch bag toys that represent clowns or The Scream; punch them, and they pop back up.
The Ot-tok-i may have once been orignaly Buddha, celebrating a Korean festival. Korean and Japanese culture are closely linked; and the doll may be prominetn in aholiday that takes palce "The eighth day of the fourth month" shich is "celebrated in Japan as the birthday of Buddha, called the Kwam butsuye"
Starr then discusses the counterparts of this toy in Japan, and calls them tilting toys. Besides Daruam, the doll in Japan is called oki agari koboshi, a variation which means "rise up little prieset."
She references a text called The Wa Kan san sai dzue, with a picture of a Daruma.
Asian dolls feature many claiy images ofm en and horses, buried with the dead. Starr writes long before the discovery of The Terracotta Warriors, which will be covered in more depth in another blog, but she would have written about them in this chapter if she had known they existed
Starr talks abouit a periodocial Called "The Bijutsu Sekai" or "World of Fine ARts/May, 1891: which dpeticts these tilign dolls, with one rperesenting "an ancient earthen idol, dogu, the orignal supposed to be made by Tosaku Kurat sukur Busshi [maker of Buddhisitc idols] In sourthern Chinak Canotn, the Daruma was called tat pat to, "meaning "sturck not fall." There are examples from India as well.
The French, due to the popularity of Asian arts in the 19th century, made a tilitng toy that showed a chinese mandarin called La noussah, from a Chinese word meaning Buddhistic idols. This word comes of Sanskrit origins, form the word Bodhisattva.
Such tosy were also sold in Madrid, Spain and in Germany during Starr's time. Sweden had its version called Trollguvve or "old goblin." Of course, may exist in the US as well under the terms "Bouning Betty," particularly popular in Maryland.
She compares similar objects of stone and clay found in Native American cultures int he US, but tehse do not necessarily tilt. In 1908, The Phildielphia University Museum had a large collection. Their "evolution" was "tracec elarly fromt he gourd vessel imitated in pottery by the aid of examples in he same colletion" per Starr.
Next, Starr addresses Shadow puppets and pictures from Korea and Japan.In Japan, such shadow puppets are called Kage ye, literally shadow pictures.
Starr alludes to the Chinese book of Rites wich "governs the style of dress and condcut of the Chinese fromt he cradle to the grave . . ." and also governs the type of dolls children may have and how the dolls are dressed."
Interestingly, dolls from very old Chinese families have deformed feet, in imtiation of the bound feet of some Chinese women, and these date now to nearly 400 years ago.
Chinese dolls were steeped in myth and history, and were meant to teach as well as amuse.
The next blog will continue with Starr's Chatper VI on Asian dolls, which also talks in depth of The Japanese Doll Festival.