Yokai Girl - The Peony Lantern
Artist's notes on style, materials and inspiration:
For three days in August in Japan, it is believed that ancestor's spirits come back to visit the living - this is celebrated as the Obon festival.
A long time ago, on the first night of Obon, a man saw a beautiful woman strolling past his house, her maid carrying a peony lantern. Every night, in the light of the lantern carried by the maid, the young woman named Otsuyu joined him - then stayed every night from nightfall until dawn. The man's neighbour, worried about no longer seeing him around, decided to visit him one evening, curious about these mysterious visitors that passed in front of his house each night. Peeping through the bedroom door, he was startled to find the man entwined in the arms of a skeleton. He immediately alerted a Buddhist priest, who convinced the lovestruck man that he was in great danger and placed a protective charm around the house. Unable to enter, Otsuyu and her maid came to the door every night crying. The lovesick man became unwell, pining for his lost love, and one night in desperation he removed the charm and let the women back into his house. The next day he was found dead, his face a radiant smile, his soul taken to the world of the dead where he would forever be with his beloved Otsuyu.
The story came to Japan in a book of Chinese ghost stories in the 17th century and was adapted by Ryoi Asai in 1666, setting the story in the Nezu district of Tokyo. There lots of versions of the story, including the Yamamoto Satsuo 1968 film Botan Dōrō, and a kabuki play.
My wood girl shows the beautiful woman and the peony lantern on one side, but turn her around and you see the truth...
Turned from American Tulipwood, a sustainable and interestingly grained timber, my pieces are turned on a lathe by a production wood turner in the UK to my designs, then painted by me, a British artist. She has been hand painted and finished in a semi-matt acrylic protective top coat.
This tall girl is approximately 25cm in height.
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.