Japanese chigo ningyo (doll), Kyoto doll from 1920-1940. Chigo simply
translates into a “young child” and the distinct hairstyle of this doll
is called Chigo-mage.
In the old days, there was a custom among the kuge (aristocrats) class
families to send their young boys away to temple for early training. The
dolls were made in late Edo period (1603-1868) portraying the looks of
these young boys. The dolls have chigo wa(loops) hairdos with two loops
on the top and the faces are similar to a baby's face of Gosho ningyo
(imperial dolls). The attire is of kuge’s children; embroidered silk
kimono top and samurai style hakama pants. Some dolls have full samurai
attire “kamishimo” over the kimono top.
The dolls were made to be given to *shinno, and sons of elite Noh
performers for their first appearance at the imperial palace. For this
reason, the dolls were later called Uizan (first visit) Chigo dolls.
The chigo dolls that we offer here are made later but with exceptional
quality and detail. She is a young maiden instead of a child. Her hairdo
and attire are the same as older dolls. The fluffy balls on her “hakama”
pants are said to be Chrysanthemums (imperial crest) which is another
characteristic of the Uizan Chigo doll. This doll was probably made by
*Maruhei doll maker from Kyoto, Japan. 10 inches tall on 1/4 inches
stand. Circa, 1930-1940.
*Sons and grandsons of the Emperor and four families in Edo period were also granted as the shinno family.
**Maruhei doll: Founded in Kyoto in 1779, Maruhei has been one of the
most influential doll makers in Japan. With the master craftman, Heizo Oki, they have been producing quality dolls up until today. Today’s Heizo is the 7th. They won prestigious international awards in the early Meiji period (Oki Heizo III). Their clients include generations of the Royal Family, nobilities and the families of wealthy business men. Today, we are finally able to see some of their high end, special order dolls, made by the generations of Heizo in the public exhibitions.