Karakuri: dolls mechanical to serve tea


Today we propose a short, but interesting trip to Japan, specifically, that will lead us since the 17TH century to the present day, from the hand of the same product: the karakuri or mechanized dolls. And is that while today Japan feels fervor by the robots, the old version of these sympathetic automata it found in them first dolls mechanized. They are, today, considered as luxury items and many of them exposed in Museum halls or houses of families of high rank.

But, would talk about some mechanized dolls if our blog talks about teas and infusions? Mainly for two reasons: the first and most important, because the most famous of the karakuri doll was the ‘Chahakobi’ i.e. ‘the bearer of tea’ and, secondly, because we love to talk about countries like Japan or China, where the culture of tea is actually present in the every day of people who inhabit this archipelago composed of 6852 Islands.

History of the Karakuri

Just as, today, robots try to represent real-life of human beings, the Karakuri were created for the same purpose. From the portal www.conoce-japon.com, explains that «the word karakuri refers to a mechanical device that takes a person by surprise.» It implies hidden magic or an element of mystery, and makes reference to puppets, dolls or effigies.»

The Karakuri are classified into three types of different doll: «the karakuri butai, which are puppets used in the theatre; them zashiki karakuri, that are of dimensions small and that can run it inside a room; and the dashi-karakuri, which are used in religious festivals. Traditionally the karakuri appeared at festivals and represented religious myths and legends», as can be read on the mentioned website about Japan and its culture.

On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that, within these three varieties and, in particular, of the Zashiki Karakuri, the most famous of them was the Chahakobi, as we have mentioned above. A doll that undoubtedly would be surprised today to ourselves, while for more than 4 centuries (17TH century) that was created by Takeda Kiyofusa, a watchmaker that felt true passion for mechanisms derived from watches and which was built that could known as the ancestor of the current robots.

Doll Chahakobi, as its name suggests (carrier of tea) is able to bring to their guest a small cup of tea and stop when it takes it and return to start up when you deposit it. Without a doubt, a nice way to taste a tea or infusion of a unique and surprising way, why not say, magical. It is curious to see how his head begins to move lightly, while dragging feet to come to the person who must serve tea. Once the doll picks up the tea, returns to his position of origin. Amazing, really!

In general, the Karakuri Dolls move naturally and are very colorful. The experts in this type of dolls ensure that the same carry impregnated the essence and sensitivity of them Japanese. In fact, they also agree that convey affection and honey, so many people, when they are before them and see them in motion, feel the need to talk to them and embrace them.

While it is very antique objects, today is still manufactured handcrafted and are considered true works of art, in which join, on the one hand, the master craftsman of mechanics, one specialized in the processing of faces and, finally, one specialized in the design of the own Karakuri costume.

In the specific case of the Zashiki karakuri for which our protagonist of today, the Chahakobi, part were dolls designed for domestic use and originally were considered luxury items by feudal lords in the Edo period, in addition to being the first domestic robots that are known. Today, collectors raffle to have them in their possession.

One of the sad parts of this story is that many dolls were destroyed during the second world war, but, despite this, today still keeping a large collection of karakuris.

In this video we add below, you can see how a Chahakobi doll.

And you, do you know any of these dolls Karakuri?

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