Master Shido Shozan was born in Oita prefecture in 1932. During his school days he spent about 4-5 years in Tokyo and later in 1959 moved up north to Yonezawa city, Yamagata prefecture. Besides kokeshi dolls he has also made birdhouses which he enjoyed setting in his garden as well as a stone pagoda statute that was displayed in Yonezawa city and other works of art (ceramics, metal) that he was commissioned to make for various local governments and public institutions (one of his works is displayed in the Oita Memorial Hospital in Kyushu). He was one of the first kokeshi artists to use keyaki (zelkova wood) and enju (pagoda tree wood) for doll making. Living in Yonezawa city he was influenced by the snowy winters and this motif is very prominent in his works in the form of maidens wearing a traditional rice-straw coat called Mino. Many of his works feature delicate and subtle designs which emphasize the wood tone and grain while the more colorful ones were said to be inspired by the old silk road and ethnic patterns along it. Unlike many artists who name their works after completing them, Shido san said that his head was always full of titles for works and he usually picks one and then starts to design it. Besides working with wood, he also wrote the school song for the local Atago elementary school which is still being used today. His dolls are very popular and sought after among collectors and undoubtedly he was one of the most talented creative kokeshi artists to have ever lived.
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