From the estate of a retired Air Force colonel, is this charming pair of 1950s Hakata clay figures of a sweet old Japanese couple playing a game. She, apparently is beating his socks off in the game, because she has a sly smile on her face and he’s scratching his head, contemplating his next move. Hakata dolls, as they are known, date back several centuries as simple biscuit-fired toys. However, the Hakata dolls were featured in the 1890 National Industrial Exhibition in Japan and in the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900. At this time, the dolls transformed from simple clay toys to works of art with correct human proportions and expressions, appropriate coloring of clothing, and numerous scenes from daily life. There was a resurgence of the Hakata figures when American soldiers based in Japan during the Korean war took them home as souvenirs.
This adorable old couple is made up of two separate figures. The gentleman measures 8” tall to the top of his head, 6” wide, and 5 ½” deep. The lady measures 7 ½” tall, 4 ½” wide and 8 ½” deep. The pair comes with the mat that is pictured. The pieces are in wonderful condition; their delightful faces seem to need a tiny bit of cleaning, but there are no cracks or chips. The Hakata tags can be seen on the bottom. The family had a collection of other Hakata pieces which are listed for sale in our shop.
These earthenware dolls do not have clothing that is fashioned for them; instead it is part of the mold that is fired at about 900 degrees F, much cooler than the 1300 degrees for porcelain. Then the facial features, hair, and clothing are all hand-painted. Since they are earthenware, these figures tend to break very easily. Decorated in a matte paint, in the 1950s they were coated with what was called a waterproof finish to keep them from showing dirt, but over the years the finish wears off.
The price includes the figures and mat.
This would be a darling addition to your Asian or mid-century collection. Please contact us if you have any questions. Please look at the photos closely, they are part of the description of the item. We will always consider any reasonable offer for our pieces.
Because of a court ruling, Ruby Lane is having to collect sales tax from buyers who live in states that impose a sales tax.
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Endearing 1950s Hakata Dolls Clay Figures of Old Japanese Couple