Iki Ningyo 生人形
Iki Ningyo are a form of doll, or mannequin. During the late edo period many items of samurai armour were sold to the west as curiosities. The dolls were manufactured as an alternative to displaying armour on a traditional wooden stand.
Unlike hyper realistic versions the samurai dolls were almost cartoon like in their features, almost a mixture of woodblock print characters, Noh masks and bunraku puppets. Samurai Iki-Ningyo appear in most national museums and leading private collections throughout the world. They are constructed from wood, plaster and paper, making them rather fragile. With these being so easly damaged they have become somewhat of a rarity, with not many original existing examples to be found in Japan or the west. As a result they have become highly collectable.
I have been searching for one of these for over 30 years, and by luck I managed to acquire one in late 2016 from an action site. The head I have is a very good example and is believed to have been made by the artist Kamehachi Masahiro. It has glass eyes and teeth made from ivory.
My head was damaged, they were a number of craters, dents and cracks. The mouth was about to cave in with the left hand side of the face. I therefore decided to repair it.
During the repair I was able to take a silicone mould of the head. This has presented the opportunity to manufacture a number of reproductions. The progress is slow, but I am getting there. Last week I obtained glass eyes and have made some working roughs.
Here are some photo's of the progress.
The original head, what you cannot see from the photo was the caved in damaged areas.
In this photo I've removed the damaged areas.
Rough repair and a copy of the eye.
Alternative glass eye.
I'll post more photos as this project continues. I will be making a number of full sized mannequins too.
The original needs its moustache returned, I guess that will be around late feb 2017.
I'd love to know if any other collectors have one of these?