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Kokeshi are a Japanese folk craft and one of several kinds of dolls known to this culture. Their characteristic is that they are made of wood on a lathe. This particular set showcases types of "creative" kokeshi, which have developed after WW2, as opposed to the 11 types of "traditional" kokeshi (which I intend to treat separately). I started penciling the dolls during my third visit to Tokyo, succumbing at last to an overdose of kawaii.

This, however, is not the sole dimension of this set. The 45 dolls illustrate 45 traditional kimono designs, as listed by Katsumi Yumioka in the beautiful Summer Kimonos and the Colors of Japan. So this avalanche of cuteness is also a cultural document, of sorts. My dolls are named after these traditional motifs, which I list below. Note: Not all 45 dolls are included in the icon set, as some are too tall and thin to make good icons.

Ajisai 紫陽花: The hydrangea, considered by samurai to represent glory.
Ashi 葦: The reed, often depicted in waterfront paintings.
Azami 薊: The thistle, which signals the coming of summer.
Bara 薔薇: The (Chinese) rose, seen as a lucky flower promising prosperity.
Bashou 芭蕉 The plantain tree, long admired for its rarity and the sound of rain falling on its leaves.
Fune 舟: A boat, representing forward movement despite obstacles.
Fuyou 芙蓉: The confederate rose, appreciated for the gracefulness of its ephemereal flower.
Hanaguruma 花車: A flower cart, considered to be inhabited by a god's spirit.
Himawari 向日葵: The sunflower, of striking appearance.
Kaede 楓: The maple leaf, associated with powers of recovery and much contemplated during Momiji, the time of year when the leaves turn red.
Kaichuuzu 海中図: The sea, since the 18th century an inspiration for realistic yet magical udnerwater worlds.
Kaya 茅: Miscanthus, used for roofing.
Keitou 鶏頭: The celosia, seen as a symbol of social status.
Kingyo 金魚: The goldfish, one of the eight lucky signs of Buddhism.
Kujaku 孔雀: The peacock, of divine beauty but furious temperament.
Maru 丸: Circles, which have a wide variety of meanings.
Mizudori 水鳥: Waterfowl, long-time favorite subjects for artists.
Nami no maru 波の丸: Wave circles, representing the ever-changing shape of the waves.
Natsukusabana 夏草花 Summer flowers.
Ougi 扇: The folding fan, regarded as auspicious and aesthetic.
Ryu-usui 流水: Flowing water, reflecting the fact that all things in life are in a state of flux.
Seigaiha 青海波: A wave pattern symbolizing eternal peace and happiness.
Susuki 薄: Japanese pampas grass, whose feathery plumes were believed to be inhabited by the spirit of a god.
Tokusa 木賊: The scouring rush, an ornamental garden plant.
Tonbo 蜻蛉: The dragonfly, a symbol of victory often depicted on armor as it flies forward only.
Tsubame 燕: The swallow, an auspicious bird for a couple, often depicted in betrothal gifts.
Uchiwa 団扇: The round fan, believed to be inhabited by a god's spirit.
Usagi 兎: The rabbit, a holy animal in China sinc ethe Han period.
Uzumaki 渦巻: Swirls, inspired by the arrival of the Secession style in Japan.
Yatsuhashi 八橋: The eight-plank bridge, associated with an episode of The Tales of Ise, a poetry anthology of the Heian period.
Youbana 洋花: Flowers native to the West, popular since the 1900 Paris exposition.
Yuri 百合: The lily, symbolizing prayers for the prosperity of one's descendants.

More icons in the Downloads section of my website. Prints of the full set as well as derived designs for apparel can be found in my shop Cafépress and RedBubble shops.

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Legal stuff: This set may NOT be used, in part or its entirety, for anything other than their intended private use, i.e on your own personal computer. They can be redistributed by using the .zip file in its integrity, exactly as downloaded, but I would appreciate being notified beforehand.

Creative Kokeshi & Kimono Designs ©2010 Joumana Medlej,