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Ancient Art of Japan Kokeishi Dolls By N Daniel Kokeishi are a simplistic form of wooden dolls found only in the Tohoku area of Japan The ko of Kokeishi means childand keishi means erasing These special dolls are surrounded by an air of mystery as their point of origin is somewhat unknown There are several theories about how the Kokeishi dolls came to be The first is the most controversial About 100 years or so ago it was not uncommon for peasant families to have to abort children or sell them into slavery in order to ensure their familys survival It is said very quietly that these Kokeishi dolls were created to comfort grieving mothers andor to console the spirits of the erased children The dolls head often squeaks when twisted gently to mimic the cries of a child There is very little written literature in print today to substantiate this theory as the guild of Kokeishi makers controls what is published about them The next theory comes from the worship of a deity called Oshira-sama This deity in the shape of a stick with a simple face painted at one end and wrapped in a piece of cloth was believed to ward off evil spirits from a familys home It is a popular belief that the worship of this deity ultimately resulted in the creation of Kokeishi dolls The history of the Kokeishi dolls is surprisingly new - only about 100 years old This leads to the final theory regarding the origin of Kokeishi dolls These dolls are only found in the Tohoku area of Japan Oddly enough Japanese wood craftsmen have been settled in this area where hot springs abound since the seventh century However it has only been in the last one hundred years that Kokeishi dolls have been sold to tourists visiting these hot springs of Tohoku Why do the Kokeishi seem to suddenly appear only in
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