Object Record

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Catalog number 64.1
Title Doll, possibly Shotoku Taishi
Object Name Doll
Description This ceramic doll of a kneeling boy may represent the child Shotoku Taishi. Crown Prince Shotoku is known from legendary biographies written in the sixth century as having introduced Chinese Buddhism and Confucianism into Japan, bringing relief to an unstable populace. He was heralded as an emblem of just government, and a cult of the child-hero Shotoku first appears in the arts and legends of Japan in the thirteenth century.

The doll wears an ornamented gown and holds a bird-like object in his right hand. His delicate and charming facial features reflect an alert state of mind and being, and the open-mouth indicates his powers of speech and is perhaps a prayer. A comparison of the decorative motifs such as "T" square on this doll with others in textile designs of garments (Kosode) and ceramics collected in the major museums in Tokyo help to date the work in the Momoyama period. The cloud patterns and the scroll designs on the doll's sleeve resemble details of a Noh costume (Japanese) and a Gold Brocade from the Ming peiod (Chinese). Ceramic objects such as the Kutani ware produced in seventeenth-century Japan include "T" squares and a vine-like design like those of the ceramic doll. Red flowers on the back of the doll recall the poppies on a jar by Nonomura Ninsei (seventeenth century) in the Idemitsu Art Gallery.

The question of the doll's identity as Shotoku Taishi requires further study. At thepresent time, it can be said that a painting of Kobo Daishi as a Boy in the Murayama collection recalls the delicate child-like face of the ceramic doll, and the lotus flower he sits on resembles the doll's costume decoration.

Research paper by Pamela Galvez (1977); this summary by Wendy Hirschberg (1979).

Reference: Winter, Amy H., with Xiaoping Lin (eds.), "The Light of Infinite Wisdom: Asian Art from the Godwin-Ternbach Museum and Other Collections," Queens College, CUNY, 2003.
Medium/Material Wood and gesso, applied colors, metal pin and counter weight
Dimensions H-8.25 W-5.5 Dia-4.5 inches
Year Range from 1650.0
Year Range to 1699.0
Search Terms Doll
Ceremonial
Personification
East Asia
Ruler
Japan
Edo period
17th century AD
Exhibition and Publication History * "A Selection From the Queens College Art Collection" , Klapper, 1979, #52.
* "Art of the East: Selections from the Permanent Collection" Paul Klapper Library, G-TM, Oct. 13-Nov.18, 1985.
* "Discover! Selections from the G-TM of Queens College," Citicorp, L.I.C., 1990, no catalogue, ill. brochure and invitation.
* "Director’s Choice: Highlights of the Godwin-Ternbach Collection, Part II: Renaissance to Modern Art." G-TM, 10/10-12/20/02. A. Winter, Curator.
* "The Light of Infinite Wisdom: Asian Art from the Godwin-Ternbach Museum and Other Collections," A. Winter, X. Lin, Curators, G-TM, 10/15-12/20/2003, #23, ill., pp. 17-18.
Culture Japanese/Edo period