Kokeshi Dolls & Diamond Paintings

Diamond painting is an emerging form of art that is taking the world by storm. This fun and accessible craft can be learned at any age. It simply involves picking up small gem-like stones with a pen and placing them into a pre-painted canvas.

This activity is similar to cross stitching but requires less complex skills. In short, this is a hassle-free and relaxing way to make stunning pictures you can hang in your home.

But what kind of paintings can you craft with diamond painting? Really, the possibilities are endless. You can choose from hundreds and even thousands of images to make fun and memorable pieces. In this post, though, we will be talking about Kokeshi doll diamond paintings.

Kokeshi dolls are beautiful, elegant, and perfect for diamond painting. So, we will discuss, in detail, the history of these traditional Japanese dolls and delve into how they are made. This way you can learn more about Kokeshi dolls before you make your Diamond paintings of them!

History of Kokeshi Dolls

Kokeshi dolls originate from the country of Japan. These dolls were traditionally made for children and have been around for hundreds of years. The exact origins of the dolls are not entirely clear. However, the first mentions of them can be found during the Edo period in Japan. During this time period, between 1600-1868, the dolls were sold in hot springs. In particular, the Kokeshi first showed up in the Tohoku region.

Families would come by the hot springs and bring the dolls back to their children. The income from the dolls helped hot springs stay in business and added to their incomes. The creations of these dolls also made additional jobs available for workers during the harsh winter months. Over time, though, these dolls spread all over the country and became a popular craft! In more recent years, the Kokeshi dolls can still be found all over Japan!

These traditional folk dolls are still bought by the Japanese today. People get them as gifts or use them as decorations in their homes. Foreigners, who love all things Japan, also buy and collect the Kokeshi as well! Really, the Kokeshi dolls have become a recognizable piece of Japanese culture and history all around the world.


Spiritual Significance of The Kokeshi Dolls

Kokeshi dolls were not just made to entertain children, though. In fact, they had spiritual significance to the Japanese and still do to this day. Some Japanese believe that these dolls can help keep homes safe. In particular, it is believed that these objects can prevent fires. Part of this has to do with the woods used to craft the dolls.

The softwoods used in Kokeshi doll crafting is moist. The characteristics of this wood helped invoke beliefs of protection. However, the exact spiritual beliefs of the dolls are not entirely clear. Other theories about the spiritual significance of these dolls exist, as well. For instance, some people think that Kokeshi dolls are good to keep around children.

 A well-made Kokeshi doll could mean that your child will stay healthy and have good friendships and success in life. It may also mean that a child will stay spiritually healthy. Whatever the meaning of these dolls is, though, it is clear that they hold significance in the Japanese culture. There is even an event in which unwanted Kokeshi are burned and made into an offering.

How Are Kokeshi Dolls Made?

Now that you know a little about the history and significance of Kokeshi dolls, you might be wondering how they are made. Kokeshi dolls are crafted from wood and are hand-painted by Japanese artisans. These dolls have a trunk like body and a round head. Additional colors and lines are added all over the doll by the painter, as well. This helps to decorate the Kokeshi in a visually pleasing way. In addition, each design is unique to the artist who makes the dolls.

Over the years, the designs on these dolls have become more complex and realistic. More paint pigments are available, as well as, new painting techniques. So, this has only contributed to the appeal and beauty of these traditional dolls.

However, Kokeshi dolls do remain on the minimalistic side to keep with tradition. Unlike other western dolls, Kokeshi dolls do not have arms and legs made for them. Again, they only come with a head and their trunk-like bodies. These two parts of the doll are expertly cut and shaped by a craftsperson.

Crafting Practices and Tools Used When Making Kokeshi Dolls

The craftsperson who makes the dolls has been trained to make the Kokeshi and has special tools to shape them. Typically, Cherry Wood or Mizuki wood is used for the dolls. Once the wood is gathered, a lathe is used to create the iconic shape of the Kokeshi. You might not know what a lathe machine is. But it is typically used on wood crafts. It has a main grinding piece and spins in a circle to cut down wood into specific forms.

The body and head are made separately, of course, and are attached once they are complete. A plug-like device helps keep them together. Once the dolls are assembled, this is when the painting starts. In the past, colors were pretty limited. In fact, only certain pigments were used on the Kokeshi dolls. In particular, red, black, and yellow were allowed to be painted on them.

These hues would help create the face and clothes of the doll. Kokeshi dolls always wear Kimonos or Yukatas. These are traditional Japanese clothes. Kimonos are worn by female dolls. Yukatas are worn by male dolls. In present times, as we mentioned, many more colors are used on the clothes and faces of the dolls. This goes against the original tradition of Japanese doll making, but this is not without purpose.

The change in doll making has enriched Kokeshi doll crafting and has opened up this tradition to many more innovations and unique looks. Kokeshi dolls now come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. This has made them even more popular in Japan. But more importantly, it has exposed them further to the world as more people are enamored by the unique and beautiful look of Kokeshi dolls.


Kokeshi Dolls in Modern Times

As we have alluded to throughout the article, Kokeshi dolls are still quite popular in Japan and around the world. But when did modern Kokeshi dolls, with more unique colors and designs, begin to show up?

This happened once World War Two ended. During this time, Kokeshi dolls began to make their big comeback. Dolls were made with new colors, and some dolls were even made in the likeness of famous celebrities, folk heroes, and fictional characters. You can even see this now when you go to Japan.

Another new addition to Kokeshi in modern times is hair. Hair used to only be painted onto these dolls. Now crafters carve the head with hair on top of it.

Where Can You Find Kokeshi Dolls?

If you are interested in getting one of these dolls for your home, we will talk about how to acquire Kokeshi dolls here. Really, it is easier to find Kokeshi dolls because of modern advances in technology. If you have access to the internet, you can easily find a Japanese website and buy dolls off them.

Alternatively, you can go to Japan and get these dolls from authentic artisans yourself. This could be more expensive. But Kokeshi dolls made in Japan are made with care and expert skills you can’t find anywhere else.

Some vendors, who have been in business for decades, might not sell online. So if you really want something traditional, and of the best possible quality, you will have to visit Japan.

Making Kokeshi Doll Diamond Paintings

If you can’t leave the country, though, you can make your very own Kokeshi dolls from the comfort of your house. At Diamond Painting Corner, we have a wide selection of Kokeshi doll images for you to choose from. We have Kokeshi dolls with a variety of hairstyles, clothing choices, and accessories. So, you can make your very own Japanese dolls with our diamond painting kits. Our kits are affordable and high quality!

We recommend looking at our website to see our full selection of Kokeshi dolls. You can also look at our other amazing kits if you want even more diamond painting options!

More info: Japanese Dolls (Wikipedia), Kokeshi Dolls (Wikipedia)

We recommend to visit our store: Diamond Painting Corner

Also we recommend to read our articles: 

What is Diamond Painting?

The Rise of a New Art Form

The new Diamond Painting Trend is dominating as the new Art (from Medium.com)

The 4 Surprising Mental Benefits of Diamond Painting

How to Frame Diamond Paintings

7 Tips for Improving your Diamond Painting Speed

and Wikihow article: Step by Step: How to do Diamond Painting