Dating hina dolls
As with many other kinds of Japanese art, the artist seems mindful of the transience of material things and does not create “for the ages.” Moreover, the perception that some types of dolls should be burned or put to sea at the end of their “lives” does not encourage thinking of them as permanent objects, and even today many dolls are burned in rituals overseen by priests (search images using the term 人形供養 to see some doll memorial ceremonies).Nevertheless, some of them are passed down in families and become part of a descendent’s collection.
This page is an attempt at an overview of this aspect of the dolls.In their own town, such dolls may have a festival or religious meaning, but they are also sold to travelers to take home, and so they come to have a different meaning for the owner.Kokeshi dolls are the most famous example: they were a handy way for woodworkers near a hot springs to make extra money by putting scrap wood on a lathe and selling the result to tourists, but they became a varied and often extremely artistic genre of collectible. Several types of dolls originated as items made by monks to be sold at shrines.Since foreigners love to collect sets, such dolls might take a wide variety of forms (e.g.
the Hakata dolls representing so many different trades, stages of life, etc.).Such dolls might have a talismanic property, or simply be a pleasant reminder of a pilgrimage.