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Quick survey on
the history of amigurumi
May 3rd
2016
@daidaiBANANA
2
Motivation

I could not find reliable information on the history
of amigurumi on the web

Wikipedia claims that it is ...
3
Research method

Surveying only digital literature as reliable
information
– Note that “knit/crochet for making dolls” ...
4
The results

“Knitted doll”is found in 1850s
– It predates that crochet came down to Japan

Crochet is major technique...
5
History of amigurumi in Japan
6
Before Meiji era (~1867)

Knitting has come in 17th century

Its applications are limited
– For samurai: glove, cover ...
7
Re-introduction of knitting/crochet

Knitting and crochet were re-introduced in girls
education as a part of Westerniza...
8
The earliest stuffed crochet object

「西洋毛糸編物教授(Seiyo-keito-amimono-kyouju)」大
館利一(1887)
– Motif: Twigged loquat with a l...
9
Bell flower
Loquat
“...stuff with cotton and
make its shape as a fruit...”
10
Various motifs and techniques
Year Title Author Motif Technique
1908 手芸と編物 香蘭女史 doll crochet, flat
1927 婦人之友. 21(1) rab...
11
Appearance of “amigurumi”

“Amigurumi” finally appears in 1951
– 新手芸と服飾全集 (Shin-shugei-to-fukushoku-zenshu, Irse
Brasc...
12
And then...

Publications were intermittent and got hot in early
1950s, 1970s, and from 1990s to date
– Tomoko Takamor...
13
In the West
14
From literature in 19th
century

“knit/knitted doll” is found in/after 1850s
– Catalog of exhibits and agricultural fa...
15
Amigurumi in magazines (1929-)

The Vintage Knitting Lady
(http://www.thevintageknittinglady.co.uk/)
– The collection ...
16
Some thoughts
17
Technique comparison

Both knitting and crochet have appeared, but...
– In the West: Knitting has been major
– In Japa...
18
The root of Japanese amigurumi

Irish crochet may be the root
– Crochet lace developed in 1840s
– Its feature is three...
19
(Tentative) Summary

The origin of amigurumi (knitted doll) is in Western
countries (as expected)
– The earliest appea...
20
Open problems

When did the word“amigurumi” arrive to Western
countries?

Why Japanese do not chose knitting but croc...
21
Thank you for reading!
@daidaiBANANA (2016)
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Quick survey on the history of amigurumi

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Amigurumi's history (mainly in Japan) is briefly surveyed.

Published in: Art & Photos
  • Hi Dai watanabe, you cannot imagine how happy I feel to find some complementary information on Amigurumi history since I am also researching on the same topic for my Master Thesis. How could I contact you?
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Quick survey on the history of amigurumi

  1. 1. Quick survey on the history of amigurumi May 3rd 2016 @daidaiBANANA
  2. 2. 2 Motivation  I could not find reliable information on the history of amigurumi on the web  Wikipedia claims that it is Japanese art – It is likely because “amigurumi”is definitely Japanese word – But it sounds strange because crochet or knitting is not Japanese origin So what is the truth?
  3. 3. 3 Research method  Surveying only digital literature as reliable information – Note that “knit/crochet for making dolls” is natural and amigurumi is expected to exist before it appears in literature – Japanese and English literature are targets  Databases – Google – National Diet Library in Japan (Japanese) – HathiTrust Digital Library (English)
  4. 4. 4 The results  “Knitted doll”is found in 1850s – It predates that crochet came down to Japan  Crochet is major technique to make amigurumi in Japan – In contrast, knitting is major in the West – They are considered to have independently evolved  The word “amigurumi” appeared in 1951
  5. 5. 5 History of amigurumi in Japan
  6. 6. 6 Before Meiji era (~1867)  Knitting has come in 17th century  Its applications are limited – For samurai: glove, cover for helve of sward – For citizens: stocking  Knitting was a job for samurai in early 19th century [References] ● 日本メリヤス史(Nihon-meriyasu-shi), Masayoshi Fujimoto, 1914 17th century Stocking of Mitsukuni Tokugawa 洛陽集(Rakuyo-shu, 1673-1680), 猿蓑(Saumino, 1690) 18th century 和漢三才図会(Wakan-sansai-zue, 1712), 長崎夜話草(Nagasaki- yawa-so, 1719), 和訓栞(Wakun-no-shiori, 1728) 19th century 嬉遊笑覧(Kiyu-syouran, 1830), 守貞漫稿(Morisada-Manko, 1836-) Literatures which mention to knitting
  7. 7. 7 Re-introduction of knitting/crochet  Knitting and crochet were re-introduced in girls education as a part of Westernization in Meiji era – Establishment of girl's schools started on 1870 – Western women were invited for teaching English and (Western) needleworks  Introduction of Western caltures – 童女筌(Do-jo-sen, 1876) – Guidebook of girl's play – Knitting and crochet included, but not amigurumi [Reference] ● 学制百年史(学制百年史編集委員会)第一章、第三節、三.明治初期の女子教育 http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/hakusho/html/others/detail/1317595.htm
  8. 8. 8 The earliest stuffed crochet object  「西洋毛糸編物教授(Seiyo-keito-amimono-kyouju)」大 館利一(1887) – Motif: Twigged loquat with a leaf – (Maybe) the starting point of Japanese amigurumi  Plant motifs had appeared until 1920s – Loquat, persimmon, calabash, orange, ...
  9. 9. 9 Bell flower Loquat “...stuff with cotton and make its shape as a fruit...”
  10. 10. 10 Various motifs and techniques Year Title Author Motif Technique 1908 手芸と編物 香蘭女史 doll crochet, flat 1927 婦人之友. 21(1) rabbit tiger knitting, circle 1928 新らしい今年の編物 美川咲子 rabbit(?), penguin(?) procedure not given 1939 少女倶楽部. 17(14) (中島美恵子) penguin rabbit Crochet, circle (1908) (1927) (1928) (1939)
  11. 11. 11 Appearance of “amigurumi”  “Amigurumi” finally appears in 1951 – 新手芸と服飾全集 (Shin-shugei-to-fukushoku-zenshu, Irse Brasch, Ondori-sha)  The word“amigurumi”had been used only publications from Ondori-sha until the end of 1960s – => Ondori-sha may have invented the word (1951) (1953)
  12. 12. 12 And then...  Publications were intermittent and got hot in early 1950s, 1970s, and from 1990s to date – Tomoko Takamori played an important role in 1990s' fashion (according to Wikipedia)  Amigurumi books of anime/game/cartoon characters – Hello Kitty (1999) – Pokemon (1999) – Doraemon (2000)  Establishment of Japan Amigurumi Association (2002) – Amigurumi Collection (Vol.1) held in May 2001
  13. 13. 13 In the West
  14. 14. 14 From literature in 19th century  “knit/knitted doll” is found in/after 1850s – Catalog of exhibits and agricultural fairs – Nursery guides and novels (in which children appears) – Patent gazette (knitting machine)  How to make“knitted doll” appeared in 1873 [References] ● The American farmer; devoted to agriculture, horticulture and rural life. ser.4 v.5-6 1849-51 ● United States congressional serial set. 3334 (1894-95) ● Godey's magazine. v.86-87 1873
  15. 15. 15 Amigurumi in magazines (1929-)  The Vintage Knitting Lady (http://www.thevintageknittinglady.co.uk/) – The collection of magazines on knitting and crochet from 1920s to 1960s – Wildons, Lister, Bestway, etc. – Teddy bear (Wildons 21, crochet, 1929) seems to be the earliest piece – Most of the amigurumi pieces are knitted Photos from The Vintage Knitting Lady (http://www.thevintageknittinglady.co.uk/toypatterns.html)
  16. 16. 16 Some thoughts
  17. 17. 17 Technique comparison  Both knitting and crochet have appeared, but... – In the West: Knitting has been major – In Japan: Crochet has been major  => It is natural to consider that amigurumis in the West and in Japan independently evolved  Why they chose different technique? It is still in the darkness
  18. 18. 18 The root of Japanese amigurumi  Irish crochet may be the root – Crochet lace developed in 1840s – Its feature is three dimensional representation – Some motifs (fruits and a lizard) are stuffed objects, started with magic rings, based on single crochet – The techniques and (still-life) motifs are close to “stuffed crochet objects”in Japan in 19th century MET collection (ca. 1850) G. Album de Guipure d'Irlande (Hardouin, 1905)
  19. 19. 19 (Tentative) Summary  The origin of amigurumi (knitted doll) is in Western countries (as expected) – The earliest appearance goes back to 1850s  It came to Japan after mid. 19th century – It came through the education for girls and/or the mission at churches. – The first appearance in literature is in 1887 and the motif was a fruit  The technique difference indicates that amigurumis in the West and in Japan have independently evolved  The word “amigurumi” appears in 1951
  20. 20. 20 Open problems  When did the word“amigurumi” arrive to Western countries?  Why Japanese do not chose knitting but crochet for amigurumi?  How is the relationship between amigurumi and other cultures such as manga and anime?  Note that my survey on the literatures after WW2 is poor
  21. 21. 21 Thank you for reading! @daidaiBANANA (2016)

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