Past Exhibitions

Feature Exhibition: Hina Matsuri and Japanese Dolls
February 13, 2019 - March 17, 2019

The Kyoto National Museum welcomes spring again this year with its annual exhibition of Japanese dolls (ningyō). The Doll Festival (Hina Matsuri), now celebrated on March 3, originated as an annual purification rite that took place on the third day of the third lunar month. Dolls functioned as inanimate avatars thought to draw impurities and evil spirits away from actual people. These ritual representations could then be floated away or otherwise destroyed, taking human pollutants with them. During the Edo period (1615–1868), dolls evolved into luxurious figurines displayed on this day for the daughters of elite families.

This year's selection includes emperor and empress dolls (dairi bina), some with their own palaces (distinctive to Kyoto doll culture), and other various types of hina dolls. It also features Saga dolls (Saga ningyō), palace dolls (Gosho ningyō), said to have been gifted by the court and aristocracy, as well as tiny Kamo dolls (Kamo ningyō), and other varieties associated with the culture of the ancient capital of Kyoto.

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