gentleman seems to be Fukusuku, a storyteller with a very high forehead
to hold all his tales.
is his friend, the storyteller, ready to embroider a tale with expert gestures
of his fan. Both these dolls probably date from the turn of the century.
"Butterfly dancers" with their
drums on a delightful little stage in front of a lacquer backdrop! A dance
of children dressed as birds and butterflies is described in the Tale of
Genji. These dolls probably date from the early 1930s (based on a newspaper
in the box) and, like Jo and Uba, are made very much like Hina dolls.
This couple are Jo and Uba, the old man and woman representing the
spiritual love of two pine trees in the Noh play Takasago. This is one
of the most common subjects for story dolls, as it was considered an appropriate
wedding gift. She sweeps out the bad, he rakes in the good, so they
enact a proverb as well as recalling the play.
For an online
translation of the play, see:
tr. by Royall Tyler
A delightful little boy in scanty
clothing dances in a Sambaso hat and wields his bells (the fan and
base are not original). The Sambaso dance was adapted from a Noh play,
where it is danced by an old man.
This beautiful boy in a kimono
painted with cranes and pine trees (symbols of long life, as in the Takasago
story above) seems also to be a Sambaso dancer, though I have given him
a wooden sword instead of a rattle or drum.
I don't really
know who these men are, nor whether they lift their sticks to beat each
other or to beat a drum. Clothing and hairstyles seem to suggest courtiers.
Here's a small dancer--again, I
don't know what his purpose is, but note the cloud and devil mask in his
|The elegant modern doll at left represents
a Noh actor in a woman's role--like the lovely silk wrapping-cloth (from
1958) behind him. The mask, which is delicately finished in gofun, can
be removed, to see the actor's own flesh-colored face (below).