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  • Images
  • Ozaki Seiji

Created by Ozaki Seiji, the woodblock prints in this volume depict Okinawan dolls and toys. The prints are reproduced from his book Ryukyu gangu zufu (Kasahara Shoni Hoken Kenkyujo, 1936), which is in the Sakamaki/Hawley Collection in Hamilton Library, of the University of Hawai'i. A multitude of Ryukyu/Okinawa materials were destroyed during World War II, so numerous items in the collection are one of a kind. Ozaki's book is one of the more than nine hundred items collected by the late English journalist-scholar Frank Hawley (1906-1961).

Ozaki's captions were translated by Lynette Teruya, Program Coordinator at the Center for Okinawan Studies, of the University of Hawai'i, then edited and abridged for concision; additional help was provided by Kinuko Yamazato. In some cases, Ozaki's 1930s Japanese terms have been modernized and the spelling of Ryukyuan words standardized in accordance with Okinawan-English Wordbook by Mitsugu Sakihara (University of Hawai'i Press, 2006). Any errors introduced in the editing and abridgement are the responsibility of Mänoa's general editor.

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Opening Illustration


This type of doll is called chinchin umagwaa,
named for the sound it makes (chinchin)
when pulled by its string (umagwaa means "small
horse" or "toy horse"). It was created by pasting paper
over a wooden mold, letting it dry, then painting it.
In this case, the wooden mold was superbly carved.
The doll resembles ancient Chinese funerary figurines
and is unusual in that it is wearinga hanagasa, a large
floral hat typically worn in Okinawan dance.

Papier-mâché. Made by Tomoshi Ryüwa.
Woodblock print by Ozaki Seiji.

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Kite Toy

Paper is pasted over bamboo
to make this butterfly-shaped toy.
When a kite is aloft, the butterfly is threaded
onto the string; it ascends, strikes the kite, and releases
bits of colorful paper, which gaily flutter down.

Bamboo, paper.
Woodblock print by Ozaki Seiji.

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With a flag made of chiyogami (handmade,
printed Japanese paper), this toy boat at first does not
appear to be uniquely Ryukyuan; however, the colors
and designs are distinctive. Another type of Okinawan
toy boat is made of leaves from the kuba (fan palm).
The Ryukyuan toy yanbarushin, a third type of
Okinawan boat, is cherished by collectors
in mainland Japan.

Woodblock print by Ozaki Seiji.

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Straw Horse

This horse figure, made principally of straw
and tree bark, captures the unique characteristics
of the Ryukyuan breed of small horses.
The artistry and craftsmanship are particularly fine.
In many other regions of Japan, horse and cow figures
are made out of straw and often used in religious
rituals to bring happiness to children. After the
rituals, the straw figures are given as toys.

Woodblock print by Ozaki Seiji.

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Woman Playing Teeku

In the Ryukyus, women play handheld drums
(single-sided paarankuu or double-sided teeku) as
they dance and sing at such events as the women-only
outings held on the third day of the third month
of the lunar calendar (sangwachisannichi) or at the
bon festival (shichigwachieisaa) in the seventh month.
Their songs, yarashii and kweena, are sung for the
safe voyage and well being of travelers. Teeku are also
played at the ushideeku, an autumn harvest festival.
The jurigwaa ninjoo (female entertainer doll)
depicted here was likely sold at the yukkanufii festival
(held during the fourth month of the lunar calendar).
The strong, vibrant colors are characteristic
of the Southern Islands.

Paper-mâché. Made by Tomoshi Ryüwa.
Woodblock print by Ozaki Seiji.

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Male and Female Dancers

The Ryukyus are extolled as the islands of song and
dance, with each village developing its own variations.
In addition, there is a national dramatic form,
kumiwudui, which derives from classical sources.
This female doll has the expressive hand movements
of such dances, and is regarded as a jurigwaa ninjoo
(female entertainer doll). Her clothing is made of
bingata, dyed fabric stenciled with traditional
Okinawan motifs...


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