Asian Tribal Art - Iki Ningyo Face, Japan

Home | New Items
Click on image below for larger photos

Iki ningyo face
Camphor wood, gofun, glass eyes, hair, string
7.5″ (19 cm) high, 4.25″ (10.7 cm) wide
Meiji Period 1868-1912

This small, hyper-real iki-ningyo (living doll) face was masterfully carved from camphorwood, unlike the usual paper-maché versions. It has survived the ravages of time, but not without dings and flakes from rough handling. Areas of amateur restoration are unfortunately amplified by the camera.

Iki ningyo heads were part of a cultural phenomenon in the evolution of doll-making in Japan that began in 1852 with an exhibition in Osaka by Ōe Chūbei, the Jeff Koons of his time. Eventually, life-sized, highly dramatic and super-realistic figures in scenes from mythology gave way to pieces that were created for the export market as souvenirs of Japanese culture. These pieces are highly collectible and increasingly hard to find in the art market. 

Please reference: Japanese Dolls: The Fascinating World of Ningyo by Alan Scott Pate, 2008, pp. 142-153.


Home | New Items

back to top