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Japanese Dolls

The creation of human-like dolls, or ningyo, in Japan, is one that can be traced back to Neolithic times. Ancient Japanese artisans created doll-like objects for funerary ceremonies, sacrificial practices, and eventually for play and religious reasons. Early records of humanoid figures being used for ceremonial practices are evidenced in archeological findings dating back to 8000 to 200 B.C.

By the 11th century, dolls were popular objects of play by small girls and women as visible through the classic literature, "Tales of Genji." By the 17th century Edo period, dolls were becoming increasingly popular and were purchased as gifts and decoration for the wealthy of Japan. These dolls took the shape of geisha, samurai, emperors, empresses, and everyday people. They were often made of wood, gofun, a variety of textiles, and human or silk hair. Over time, Japanese dolls became more and more elaborate and are still widely collected today for display.


Quick Facts

  • Every year the Japanese throw a doll festival on March 3 called “hinamatsuri." This is also called “Girl’s Day." This developed from the belief that these dolls captured bad spirits, so in order to protect their children, the Japanese would later send dolls out to sea and then bring the dolls back to a temple to be burned
  • Some Japanese dolls are created in life size. Iki-ningko in particular are famous for being hyper-realistic to the point of shocking viewers
  • Japanese dolls were and are still usually created with very minimalistic facial features. This aesthetic goes far back in history, and is believed to be so that one might preserve some anonymity to the dolls and anyone might identify with the doll

Recommended Items at Auction

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A SAMURAI PUPPET HOLDING A SWORD
Dec 07, 9:30 AM CET
A SAMURAI PUPPET HOLDING A SWORD
by Nagel Auction
Est: €50- €80
€500 Bids
Kaiserpaar Hina Matsuri.
Dec 16, 10:00 AM CET
Kaiserpaar Hina Matsuri.
by Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen
Est: €200- €300
€2000 Bids
A lacquer model of a doll. Meiji period
Dec 09, 11:00 AM CET
A lacquer model of a doll. Meiji period
by Kunsthaus Lempertz KG
Est: €1,000- €1,400
€7500 Bids
Japanese Masks and Doll
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
Japanese Masks and Doll
by Caza Sikes
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
VTG NISHI STYLE KIMONO CLOTH GEISHA DOLL ASIAN ART
Dec 06, 4:00 PM EST
VTG NISHI STYLE KIMONO CLOTH GEISHA DOLL ASIAN ART
by DejaVu Estate Sales & Auctions
Est: $40- $100
$100 Bids
VTG NISHI STYLE KIMONO CLOTH GEISHA DOLL ASIAN ART
Dec 06, 4:00 PM EST
VTG NISHI STYLE KIMONO CLOTH GEISHA DOLL ASIAN ART
by DejaVu Estate Sales & Auctions
Est: $50- $100
$100 Bids
Lot of Japanese Nippon Porcelain Doll Miniatures
Nov 29, 12:00 PM EST
Lot of Japanese Nippon Porcelain Doll Miniatures
by Greenwich Auction
Est: $50- $100
$500 Bids
Lot of 2 Vintage Japanese Dolls
Dec 04, 1:00 PM EST
Lot of 2 Vintage Japanese Dolls
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $25- $250
$250 Bids
Japanese Vintage Hakata Doll
Dec 04, 1:00 PM EST
Japanese Vintage Hakata Doll
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $50- $500
$500 Bids
Vintage Japanese Hakata Doll
Dec 04, 1:00 PM EST
Vintage Japanese Hakata Doll
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $15- $150
$150 Bids
Japanese Handpainted Silk Dolls
Dec 03, 1:00 PM EST
Japanese Handpainted Silk Dolls
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $45- $450
$450 Bids
JAPANESE JINMU TENNO EMPEROR DOLL
Dec 04, 10:00 AM PST
JAPANESE JINMU TENNO EMPEROR DOLL
by Scollard Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
A Chinese or Japanese Doll
Dec 03, 1:00 PM EST
A Chinese or Japanese Doll
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $25- $250
$250 Bids
24in Japanese Nishi Geisha Doll
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
24in Japanese Nishi Geisha Doll
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Dolls


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

DejaVu Estate Sales & Auctions

DejaVu Estate Sales & Auctions

Kunsthaus Lempertz KG

Kunsthaus Lempertz KG

Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction