Saturday, March 2, 2024

Dolls Alive: The Art of Ayakadoll

In a culture inspired by the belief that both the animate as well as the inanimate possess power, dolls in Japan are more than mere toys or objects of beauty. Consequently, it's not strange at all that, in Japan, dolls are believed to have a soul, even more so when we consider that the word "ningyō" translates to "having human form".

This idea could not be more evident than in the amazing work of Ayakadoll by Tanaka Hisae. A veteran of the doll making profession, Tanaka learned her art after working with an expert who created doll heads for Hina, geisha, and Kabuki dolls employing the more than 200-year old method of using gofun (seashell powder) and nikawa (a type of glue made from animal skin).

A time-consuming process, this form of doll sculpting yields - in the gifted hands of Tanaka- countenances of recognizable familiarity and undeniable depth of spirit. In other words, these dolls are alive with their sensitively sculpted eyes with inset glass orbs, nose, and expressive mouths. It's amazing to see how well Tanaka conveys emotion and mood. As it is to be expected, each doll head is an original one-of-a-kind work of art.

Tanaka's idea for creating dolls is also influenced by the desire to allow them to come out of the rarefied realm of the decorative object and become a 21st century fashion doll, one that will convey movement via the use of the highly poseable Obitsu 1:6th scale body. The result if pure genius. Dressed in one of Tanaka's handmade and richly accessorized fashions, an Ayakadoll is both a fashion doll gem and an engrossing lesson in Japanese culture. But the enjoyment of the Ayakadoll does not stop there, for these fashionable dolls are happy to redress in current styles too! From Momoko to Francie to Petwork's Eight and Nine, the Ayakadoll time travels with amazing ease, as our photo portfolio illustrates.

Tanaka's Etsy store, Ayakadoll, is a treat to any dollector looking to enhance their fashion doll family with a soulful new member. For more information, visit Ayakadoll (there's a great photo slide presentation showing how Tanaka makes the gofun heads). Ayakadoll is also on Instagram.

Dolldom is honored to profile the work of doll artist Tanaka Hisae of Ayakadoll.

Time traveling begins...

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