Among the dolls presented on this site, the ichimatsu-ningyô comes closest to the Western concept of a play doll. Although it's origins are rooted in the actor dolls produced during the 18th century, the popular daki-ningyô or "huggable doll" of the 19th century were specifically designed to be loved and cared for, complete with numerous changes of clothing. The developing art doll movement of the early 20th century transformed these figures into significant pieces intended as wedding gifts and for display. Perhaps the apex of this movement was the Friendship Doll exchange of 1927 when fifty-eight large scale ichimatsu-ningyô were sent to the United States as gestures of good will and fashioned by the most celebrated artists of the day. Our own Miss Fukushima, profiled elsewhere on this site is an excellent example.

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