Traditional Japanese dolls are on display in Ashgabat

Traditional Japanese dolls are on display in Ashgabat

An exhibition of Japanese dolls has opened at the State Museum of Fine Arts of Turkmenistan. The exhibits brought to Ashgabat with the support of the Japan Foundation are traditional “ningyo”, which means “doll” in Japanese.

In the decorative and applied arts of Japan, dolls are of a special place, due to which the Land of the Rising Sun is sometimes called a “kingdom of dolls”. The history of such dolls in Japan dates back more than 13 centuries. They can be made of different materials – wood, paper, fabric, clay, etc. In ancient times, puppets as amulets and talismans were believed to have mystical and ritual significance.

The Japanese Embassy in Ashgabat organized this event, having wished to acquaint the Turkmen people with another amazing feature of Japanese culture. Earlier, Turkmenistan hosted a Japanese films festival, a kimono show and a tea ceremony.

“This year, Turkmenistan will celebrate the 30th anniversary of independence, and the next year will be the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. At such important moments, we intend to further intensify cultural exchange, which contributes to mutual understanding between the peoples of Japan and Turkmenistan,” said Ambassador of Japan Yamamato Hiroyuki at the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

The opened exhibition is divided into 4 sections, including ningyo dolls to pray for the good growth of children, ningyo – for the fine and folk art, and the ningyo culture. The collection presented in Ashgabat includes 67 dolls, the semantic message of each is described in an explanatory note.

“Dolls are a very important part of our culture. At the moment, I have a hina- ningyo in my residence – Emperor and Empress, with them we celebrate a Girls’ Day,” said Ambassador Yamamato Hiroyuki.

In Japan, every year on the 3rd of March comes a traditional celebration known as Girls’ Day or Hina Matsuri – or “Puppet Festival”. It’s a day for the girls in the family to take center stage. According to custom, on this day, families with young daughters mark this day by setting up a display of dolls inside the house that personify the imperial family “hina-ningyo”. Such dolls are not allowed to play, they are inherited and cherished. It is believed that they bring happiness to girls, but these dolls cannot be exhibited for a long time, as the desired hour of marriage might be delayed.

In Japan, the art of making dolls is highly regarded, and these pieces of crafts are included in the country’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. And the best dollmakers receive from the government a special title “Living National Treasure of Japan”.

At the exhibition in Ashgabat, the “puppet actors” of the national Japanese Kabuki theater can be seen. Also, it is a chance to admire the beauty of the dolls, made of powdered wood and coated with layers of paint specially created for them from oyster shells as well as to make a wish to “Takasaki Daruma” made of paper – the Japanese believe that this doll brings about happiness and grants a wish.

A traveling exhibition of traditional Japanese dolls arrived in Turkmenistan from Croatia, where it “stayed” for several weeks, then the dolls will go to New Zealand.

The exposition in Ashgabat will last until March 9, so Ashgabat residents and guests of the capital have enough time to get acquainted with the ancient art of Japan.

Selbi CHARIYEVA

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