Karakuri Doll     Twenty-four Filial Exemplars: Mengzong Bamboo, or He Cried and the Bamboo Sprouted

Hōreki era (1751–1764) Donated by Saitō Shōji

The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars is an influential classic text of Confucian filial piety written sometime during the Yuan dynasty (1260–1368). It was published during the Muromachi period (1336–1573) as a book of fairy tales and circulated throughout Japan. One of its most famous stories is that of the scholar Mengzong, the Chinese paragon of filial piety whom this doll represents. Doll researcher Nishizawa Tekiho believes that this was originally a mechanical ‘karakuri’ doll. 

 In the depths of winter, Mengzong’s mother expressed a burning desire to eat stewed bamboo shoots, so he went out to dig in the snow. Upon praying to the heavens, the ground split beneath his feet, and bamboo shoots grew out of the snow. It was said that this happened because his filial piety had moved the heavenly powers.