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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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Authentic Japanese Ninja Wooden Kokeshi Doll LOT 7
Feb 25, 5:00 PM EST
Authentic Japanese Ninja Wooden Kokeshi Doll LOT 7
by Jones Auction House LLC
Est: $0- $0
$104 Bids
Japanese doll in red traditional dress, on plinth in perspex case. Height of case approx 66cm
Feb 26, 7:00 PM AEDT
Japanese doll in red traditional dress, on plinth in perspex case. Height of case approx 66cm
by Bargain Hunt Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD504 Bids
White Japenese Daruma Doll LOT 7
Feb 25, 5:00 PM EST
White Japenese Daruma Doll LOT 7
by Jones Auction House LLC
Est: $0- $0
$62 Bids
Japenese Daimonya Daruma Doll LOT 7
Feb 25, 5:00 PM EST
Japenese Daimonya Daruma Doll LOT 7
by Jones Auction House LLC
Est: $0- $0
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ANTIQUE 19TH C JAPANESE DOLLS IN ORIGINAL WOODEN BOX
Mar 02, 10:00 AM EST
ANTIQUE 19TH C JAPANESE DOLLS IN ORIGINAL WOODEN BOX
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
Japanese Miniature Instruments, and Dolls.
Mar 09, 10:30 AM PST
Japanese Miniature Instruments, and Dolls.
by Turner Auctions + Appraisals
Est: $80- $120
$500 Bids
(3) Japanese Nara & Takasago dolls, signed
Mar 08, 10:00 AM EST
(3) Japanese Nara & Takasago dolls, signed
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
Japanese Glass Eyes Gofun Iki Ningyo Mannequin Head
Feb 26, 7:00 PM EST
Japanese Glass Eyes Gofun Iki Ningyo Mannequin Head
by Kensington Estate Auctions
Est: $300- $600
$1500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Dolls


Bamfords Auctioneers and Valuers Ltd

Bamfords Auctioneers and Valuers Ltd

Jones Auction House LLC

Jones Auction House LLC

Bargain Hunt Auctions

Bargain Hunt Auctions

Millea Bros Ltd

Millea Bros Ltd