Edo period, 19th century
Gosho Ningyō, or Imperial Palace Dolls, were made to look like children and enjoyed great popularity at the imperial court and among the nobles of Kyōto. They are characterized by large heads and round bodies. Their plump and adorable childlike forms are a product of the aesthetic tastes that developed in Japan. This doll wears a red bib with embroidery, a golden crown with red peony blossoms, and holds a war fan in his hand. This form signifies undisputed rule over the land and was considered auspicious in nature. The platform on which the doll sits is fitted with wheels, so it could be pulled around like a toy by the cord at the front. According to records at Hōryūji, it was offered to the temple by the Imperial Palace sometime during the Bunka period, which spanned from 1804 to 1818. It may have belonged to Empress Gosakuramachi and been offered after her death in 1813. It is one of the most elegant and magnificent examples of a Gosho Ningyō that has survived to present day, and provides a glimpse into the luxury of Edo-period palace culture.