Eitokusai’s dolls in Japan

These dolls or models, part of the lab’s Commercial Museum collection, were made by a well known Japanese craftsman, Eitokusai, during the first quarter of the 2oth century.

Model I, shown here, represents two women harvesting tea leaves and is the first in a series of three models demonstrating the tea making process.

Eitokusai (his professional name) worked in Philadelphia at the former Commercial Museum creating human models of various ethnological origins to help museum visitors understand cultural diversity.  Today his existing creations are rare but highly admired by connoisseurs of Japanese dolls for their unique quality.

Scholar Sumiko Enbutsu recently spoke at Temple describing her research on three generations of traditional doll carvers in Japan as well as her discovery of Eitokusai’s craft and journey to Philadelphia.  Ms. Enbutsu is the author of several guidebooks including A Flower Lover’s Guide to Tokyo and Tokyo: Exploring the City of the Shogun.

The Japan Room. From a photo scrapbook of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, taken circa 1910.

Above, the Japan room in the Commercial Museum, perhaps the dolls’ original home?

Currently, Eitokusai’s dolls are traveling as part of a loan to Japan.  They will be appearing in a special exhibition commemorating the 70th anniversary of the death of Yasujiro Yamakawa (Eitokusai) at the Yasuda House in Tokyo.  The exhibit will run from October 29th through November 6th 2011.

More information and photos will be posted in future entries – stay tuned!

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