Automata aren’t that recent, y’know

typed for your pleasure on 21 January 2007, at 2.28 am

Sdtrk: ‘Franz Ferdinand might be from Glasgow and that’s alright but their music is a pile of pussy fucking shite and then christ destroys us’ by Jansky noise

It’s entirely reassuring to know that there are still a number of people alive in Japan, that still know how to construct karakuri. Even more reassuring is the fact that they’ve made the knowledge available to others, ensuring it’ll never be lost to obscurity. So you’ll be pleased to learn that the company Karakuriya, who specialise in building karakuri dolls to the original Edo-era (1603 to 1867) specs, have a number of models on offer. Get those wallets ready though, as the average price runs about — brace yourself — $8000 USD.


Left: in work clothes. Right: off the clock

Karakuri dolls were the first automata in Japan.
Their movements are caused by the power of springs, mercury and sand. You can build them and take them apart easily without ever using metallic screws or nails. […] Karakuri dolls are a representative of the highest technology in the Edo period.
It was difficult to pass the tradition down from generation to generation, because their production required not only the knowledge, but also a high level of craftsmanship.
It is called as a treasure trove since few original designs from those days still exist, and complete ones are even more rare.

If I had a choice between purchasing one of these and, say, a MyPartyDoll, the answer’s embarrassingly clear-cut. But you definitely have to admire the dedication of the craftsmanship behind each karakuri ningyou. Two different types of wood, silk fabrics and gold brocade for the clothes, and special clay used to sculpt the hand-painted head. And each one is made-to-order, as they take 20 – 40 days to carve, paint, and assemble.
And remember, if you don’t exactly have the dosh on hand to splash out for the more ‘luxury’ version, there’s always the more reasonably-priced version; a snip at $170 USD. Hmmm. *stroking chin*

I’m sure you’ll be able to find out a shedload more information about karakuri at nippon-karakuri.com, but as of this writing, they’re still working on their English page. Nevertheless!
Also, I’ll have Sidore post a karakuri video or two to her Dailymotion.com page on the usual update date of the 23rd — if I can find the clip, that is. It’s around here somewhere

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Any Doll-related news, Davecat? (Mar 06) on March 11th, 2006

Metal machine maiden on August 3rd, 2008

6 have spoken to “Automata aren’t that recent, y’know”

  1. SafeTinspector writes:

    I’ve always found automata fascinating. Who would win in a fight? A 17th century European automata drawing a kitty cat or a 17th century Japanese automata holding a bowl?

  2. Davecat writes:

    I’ve got to find those clips — or, at the very least, where I can download them again. If I’m not mistaken, I have one of (a reproduction of) Jacques Vaucanson’s duck…

    Maybe I should upload those to my YouTube page, and leave the Synthetik material to Shi-chan

  3. Ray Rentell writes:

    Wotcha DC

    At the risk of you saying ” Nah ,seen it before” Raaaaazzzz, you might like to look at this guys work.

    http://automatashop.co.uk/search.asp?types=yes&type=Automata

    Having seen them in the flesh so to speak and buying an Anubis twenty odd years ago I can attest to there quality and inventiveness.

    This is such an interesting artform , thanks for reminding me of it.
    My daughter has the model now otherwise I would show you a pic of it so the above link will have to serve

    Rentell and all eight face X characters

  4. Ray Rentell writes:

    Whoops dun it agin.

    Not quite as nice as your choice but you may find this un amusing.

    http://automatashop.co.uk/ShowDetails.asp?id=363

    Now is there anything else I have forgotten to add ???

    Oh yeah , see youse soon .

    As ever without being to sycophantic thanks for letting us into the world and workings of DC.

    Ray Rentell etc,etc.

  5. Davecat writes:

    Hey Ray (Fay Wray?) –
    Well, you’ve scooped me there — I’ve not seen these. Very nice! I particularly dig the geisha, but the Anubis riding a camel is pretty ace. And that Honeymoon bed is rather clever, too. 🙂

    You say you bought an Anubis a couple of decades ago? Do you still have it? You should get some pics of Ren-chan or Betty with it…

    Ta very much for the link, sir! Tell your glamour girls Shi-chan and I say Hi!

  6. Ray Rentell writes:

    Sorry messed it up as usual , this should of been posted here DOH !

    “I meant to mention the original artist is Paul Spooner, these are some of the rerelease’s of his work.”

    If you google him theres quite a lot on him.

    Thought you might like them and no, I no longer have the Anubis , it belongs to my daughter now.

    To you and yours , cheers RR

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