yokai girl - abura sumashi
Artist's notes on style, materials and inspiration:
Many yōkai have very little information to go on - either there was an image drawn with no added detail, or it was such an infrequent encounter that not much was passed on by word of mouth.
This one is a rarely seen ancient yōkai called abura-sumashi; found only on the mountain road called Kusazumigoe, in the Amakusa area of Kumamoto prefecture. He is said to be a little old man with a potato-like head, wearing a straw coat and sandals and carrying a staff.
On one occasion, a grandmother was passing along the mountain road with her grandson, to whom she said: "Apparently, in the past, a yōkai called abura-sumashi used to appear around here." Then there was a sudden noise of something moving in the undergrowth and a voice saying, "And I'm still here." According to the story, the abura-sumashi then appeared before them.
The name is said to mean something like "oil presser" and it has been surmised that because the oil from the seeds of the camellia sasanqua plant grown here was much prized and expensive, the abura-sumashi is the spirit of someone who once stole oil.
There are other yōkai that appear in a very similar way on mountain passes or travellers roads. One of the images I based my version on had snow in the picture, and after I painted this girl I did wonder if it ever snows in Amakusa, which is quite far south in Japan - maybe sometimes in the mountains in January?
This girl is approximately 21.5cm in height (including the staff). She has been turned in American Tulipwood on a lathe and hand painted. Stamped underneath with roaring bear in blue ink.
My pieces are painted in a naïve and simple style, with visible brush strokes and differing paint consistencies. It is important to note that these dolls are made from real wood which will have naturally occurring markings and grain, and sometimes there will be small amount of bleeding along the grain, or knots, which is to be expected when using untreated wood - please make sure you consult the pictures carefully before purchasing.
My wood girls are made in the 'spirit of kokeshi', being originally inspired by the 'creative' kokeshi branch of the traditional Japanese folk craft of wooden limbless dolls which are turned on a lathe and hand painted. Dentō kokeshi are the traditional kokeshi, deeply rooted to their places of manufacture (often onsen towns) within Japan and made with very specific body shapes and pattern designs, often by generations of a same family. Dentō kokeshi can today be classified under eleven different types: Naruko, Tsuchiyu, Togatta, Yajiro, Sakunami, Yamagata, Kijiyama, Nanbu, Tsugaru, Zao-takayu, and Hijiori. By contrast, 'creative' or sosaku kokeshi are not associated with any particular region or style and often made by artists unconnected to craft families, and apart from the fact that they are still turned on a lathe, their styles and decoration are pretty much limitless.
PLEASE NOTE: Wood girls should be kept away from water which can damage the wood and painted surface, and also away from direct heat/ sunlight which also can affect the surface colour and the timber itself.
THIS IS NOT A TOY and should be kept out of the reach of children.