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Karakuri Doll
History of Karakuri Dolls
Mechanism & Technique
Karakuri-zui
Harumitsu Hanya
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Karakuri Doll
The only existing manual of the karakuri mechanical dolls is Karakuri-zui published in the Edo period (1798) by Hosokawa Hanzo Yorinari, popularly known as Karakuri Hanzo, an engineer of the Tosa domain.
Also Hiraga Gennai, an inventor who is well known for his Erekiteru (commonly referred to as the Elekiter in English), was impressed for his outstanding work.
The exquisite and delicate making of these dolls were brought back just like they were in those days, by the hands of the finest Japanese craftsmen.
 
First of all, there are two types of grain of wood, which are a straight grain and a cross one.
The wood can vary in the grain strength depending on the quality, and all the craftsmen in Edo tried to cover the problem by various devices. The techniques, however, is held in high esteem because of its prominent ideas which enabled complicated operations of gears to work smoothly.
 
The doll's frame is made of paulownia wood, and gear wheels are used for the movement of its joints. As each gear wheel fits into each other, the solid wood will be shaved off many times over and over. These movements will make a soft and warm nostalgic sound which will make you feel as you time-traveled back into the Edo period.
To reproduce these Edo-period dolls,the Japanese craftsmen use special Japanese clay made of powder from paulownia wood for its head part. The lovable look of the face and hairstyle of the little boy are made by hand drawing which makes the dolls more lifelike. Each one's clothes is hand-sewn, made of pure silk fabrics and gold brocade.
However, there is one difference between the Edo period and the present times.
Traditionally, the spring used in the mechanism was made from the whisker of a whale, but we cannot use that these days due to the protected status of the whale uder international law.
Hanya Harumitsu devoted his energy and time to make full reproduction of these Karakuri dolls.

 
       

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