Tuesday, April 1, 2008

JAPANESE DOLLS: Boy's Day Festival in Japan

by: Helen Vanderberg

Who wouldn’t be fascinated by the concept of having a whole
festival dedicated to dolls? Dolls are shown in Girl’s Day and Boy’
s Day festivals in Japan, and cherished over the generations. Boy’s
Day dolls can consist of anything from a healthy-looking Sumo
wrestler to a samurai warrior or his armor.

The dolls are usually set up in a hierarchal arrangement in the
family home, meant to show, perhaps, the emperor and empress,
courtiers, handmaidens, and warriors in a social hierarchy in a way
a child can understand. The same approach may ring true with the
carp-shaped banners ranged according to size either on a pole
outside the house. The big fish is daddy, next size down is mother,
the next smallest is elder son or daughter. In the countryside, on a
rope across a river, the fish banners represent the villagers.
Everything has a hidden meaning.

Beside the obvious link with Japanese doll festivals, collecting
dolls has a much deeper psychological basis. It is believed that
ancient Japanese samurai warriors tied cloth mascot dolls underneath
their clothing before going into a particularly ferocious fight.

Whether this is true or not, try this experiment. Walk through the
Cairo Museum in Egypt, turn right, and just beyond where the yellow
flowers were found, still colorful after 2500 years in a pyramid
tomb, you’ll come on the figure of a scribe. He’s almost life-
size, seated cross-legged, and as you swing around the corner his
quartz eyes stare out at you across the centuries, and your heart
turns over with a jolt of recognition.

Further north in Istanbul, touring the museum on Topkapi grounds
above the Bosphorus, you come across the statue of Sappho and the
same sense of recognition hits you. This woman lived. And loved, and
wrote amazing poetry. A human response across the centuries since
Ancient Greece.

Dolls give you this leap of recognition, albeit on a much smaller
scale, and you don’t have to be a rabid doll collector to account
for it. Perhaps it is the human miniature that grabs our
imagination. To find out more about a broad range of Japanese dolls,
go to : http://www.welcome.city.yokohama.jp/eng/doll/4010.html.

To explore these connections further brings us up against questions
of identity. Is it the samurai spirit residing in the young boy’s
heart that needs nourishing? To make a connection with a samurai
doll go to www.boonsby.com.

About The Author

Helen Vanderberg is a novelist, technical writer, copywriter, and an
art appreciator enchanted with things strange or foreign. This
article may be reproduced, provided the author's name and
boonsby.com are included in the reproduction.


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