Sunday, March 11, 2012

19th Century Japanese Pregnancy Dolls

(Above) 19th-century obstetric training doll - Wada Museum

(Above) “Dark-skinned” pregnant doll - Edo-Tokyo Museum

(Above) “Light-skinned” pregnant doll - Edo-Tokyo Museum

(Above) Wood carved fetus model set (circa 1877) - Toyota Collection

(Above) Baby doll - Edo-Tokyo Museum


IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY, SIDESHOW CARNIVALS known as
misemono were a popular form of entertainment for the sophisticated residents of Edo (present-day Tokyo). The sideshows featured a myriad of educational and entertaining attractions designed to evoke a sense of wonder and satisfy a deep curiosity for the mysteries of life. One popular attraction was the pregnant doll.

Although it is commonly believed that these dolls were created primarily to teach midwives how to deliver babies, evidence suggests they were also used for entertainment purposes.

For example, records from 1864 describe a popular show in Tokyo’s Asakusa entertainment district that educated audiences about the human body. The show featured a pregnant doll whose abdomen could be opened to reveal fetal models depicting the various stages of prenatal development.

Similarly, records of Japan’s first national industrial exhibition in 1877 indicate a Yamagata prefecture hospital doctor named Motoyoshi Hasegawa showed off an elaborate set of fetus models illustrating seven different stages of growth, from embryo to birth.

Although it is unclear whether the fetus model set pictured in the final image above is the same one Hasegawa showed in 1877, records suggest his model was a hit at the exhibition.

[Source: Geijutsu Shincho magazine, July 2001] via PinkTentacle.

An AM repost from 7/8/09.

12 comments:

Red-SSR said...

Amazing...WOW!...Gary

Maureen said...

OUCH!

j. Winkel said...

Shazam!

Colin said...

that is really Far-Out!

juancala said...

I've never seen Japanese dolls like these. They are beautiful. Thank you for posting this, John.

Angela Riechers said...

The science musuem in Florence www.imss.fi.it has some similar plaster of paris models for obstetrical training. Even the upsetting ones (for pregnancies gone wrong) are so beautiful I couldn't stop looking at them. If you're in Florence and tired of the Uffizi gallery, definitely check it out.

John Foster said...

Thanks to all for your comments.

Elatia Harris said...

Very beautiful. Thank you.

Angela, so right about the science museum in Florence. And, Angela, I love 100 Fugitives.

mozartspeaks said...

this is very disturbing, but its hard to not look away!

Emily said...

Are these possibly available for purchase? I would really like to have one.

Jackie said...

These are almost impossible to find. I have been looking for years. They are spectacular.

Pat Leck said...

WOW that's really interesting

You might also like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...