Mitate Doll        Child Hugging Carp

Bunsei era (1818–1830) Donated by Saitō Shōji

‘Mitate’ dolls are a type of costumed dolls, designed as delightfully whimsical parodies of the classic counterparts to which they typically allude. Created in the likeness of the immortal Chinese hermit Qin Gao—known as Kikko Sennin in Japan—the child-doll here is carved from wood, while the carp is made from papier-mâché.

Qin Gao was known for his skill at playing the koto (Japanese zither), and was a popular subject for paintings from the Muromachi period (1336–1573) onwards. The doll here alludes to a story in which he promised to catch a dragon, and on the appointed day appeared from the depths of a magical lake riding a giant red carp.