The Dolls of Japan日本の人形
Shapes of Prayer, Embodiments of Love 祈りのかたち 愛のすがた
The National Museum Jamaica, in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan and the Japan International
Cooperation Agency (JICA), physically mounted this exhibition at The East Street Gallery from April 12 -
June 28, 2019.
The Dolls of Japan: Shapes of Prayer, Embodiments of Love exhibition features Japanese dolls
representing a variety of characters including emperors and empresses, warriors, infants, mythic
and folktale characters, gods, dancers, and actors. With delicately carved hands, faces painted white,
and lavish silk brocades, these dolls demonstrate the long-standing craftsmanship, originality, and
iconography of Japan’s ningyo culture.
Ningyo “human figures” in Japanese, and refers to traditional Japanese dolls, is believed that
the making of human images emerged in Japan’s ancient Jomon culture (ca. 10,500–ca. 300 BC).
Dolls are often created for home shrines to memorialize someone or for festival celebrations
such as; Tango-no-sekku, the Boys’ Day Festival held annually on May 5, and Hina-matsuri,
the Girls’ Day Festival held on March 3, and presented as official gifts. They are made for adults
as well as children, whose happiness and health are celebrated with ningyoo - on special occasions.
Dolls are collected and often passed from one generation to another within a family.