The Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade, in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Serbia and the Japan Foundation, will present a unique exhibition entitled “The Dolls of Japan” to the Belgrade audience.
Japan nourishes the exceptional culture of dolls and it has a long tradition of their manufacture. Each doll bears its own meaning and has its own purpose, which are deeply connected with everyday life. This centuries-long appreciation of dolls has resulted in the belief that dolls do not represent merely children’s toys, but that they are works of art worthy of admiration.
The exhibition selection of about fifty dolls is aimed at representing the overall diversity and variety of their types in the Japanese tradition. The Hina dolls illustrate Girls’ Day, (In Japan, families having girls celebrate Hina Matsuri or Girls’ Day on 3 March. This magnificent festival is more than 1000 years old. By exhibiting their own set of Hina dolls, each family prays for the happiness of their daughters.) The Gogatsu dolls are associated with Boys’ Day and this holiday is celebrated by the families having boys. (Boys’ Festival, which corresponds to the March Hina Matsuri, is called Tango-no-Sekku and is celebrated on 5 May. The families having sons exhibit the miniatures of worriers wearing traditional costumes and armours, and they pray for their sons to become strong and healthy).
The culture of dolls is interwoven with recognisable themes of the Noh theatre. (The Noh theatre was established in the Muromachi period (1400-1600), and it is one of the most significant Japanese traditional art forms. In this theatre, actors wear masks and lavish costumes). In addition to the Noh theatre, Bunraku and Kabuki are also known as two great Japanese traditional art forms. The themes represented by these dolls have been taken from some of the most famous Bunraku and Kabuki scenes.
The exhibition also presents the Dolls of Kyoto, the city of great tradition. The specificity of these dolls lies in their sophisticated shapes and luxurious embroidery on their costumes. There are also the Oyama dolls, which represent the fashion styles of Japanese women, especially their hairstyles and costumes. The wooden dolls wearing kimonos are made using Kimekomi technique, so that the dolls are dressed by gluing the coloured fabric on them.
The Hakata dolls originate from the eponymous part of the Kyushu region. They are made of clay, and are especially famous for their rich colours. Furthermore, the Ichimatsu dolls realistically represent the Japanese children, etc.
What characterises the Japanese dolls is the serenity emitted from their faces. Their delicate expression is achieved by careful application of shell powder which covers the dolls’ faces. With their expressive colours these dolls at the same time show the affluence and luxury of ancient costumes.
In Japan, dolls are highly appreciated forms of an artistic craft. Doll exhibitions represent specific competitions where craftsmen show the finest manufacturing techniques. Contemporary craftsmen use proven old methods in the creation of traditional Japanese dolls, which are particularly appreciated by their owners. Thus, this exhibition offers a representative overview of the diversity of Japanese dolls and fineness of their manufacture.