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Collections can be categorized by the material they are made of such as wood dolls kamo-ningyo and nara-ningyo and, clay forms such as fushimi-ningyo and Hakata ningyo.
In the nineteenth century ningyo were introduced to the West.
It was during the Edo period that most of the traditional dolls developed.
Probably the first professional dollmakers were temple sculptors, who used their skill to make painted wooden images of children (Saga dolls).
The possibilities of this art form, using carved wood or wood composition, a shining white "skin" lacquer called gofun made from ground oystershell and glue, and textiles, were vast.
Some are manufactured as a local craft, to be purchased by pilgrims as a souvenir of a temple visit or some other trip.
There may be a continuity in the making of the dogū, humanoid figures, by the ancient Jōmon culture in Japan (8000-200 BC) and in the Haniwa funerary figures of the subsequent Kofun culture (around 300-600 AD).
Japanese dolls are broken down into several subcategories.