More on the beauty and craftsmanship of the Handbarrows
The decorative dolls of the Kakiyama and the Kazariyama are made by Hakata puppetmakers, that work months on getting the puppets just right. Often the puppets are life-like warlords, that seem to be able to start moving at any moment or kind, friendliy looking saints. This is the art of at Hakata puppetmaker.
The dolls of todays Yamakasa are made by well known artists and are an important part of the festival. However originally there were no dolls on the Yamakasa. It is believed, that Hakata puppetmakers, who made puppets for cultural puppetshows, saw the Yamakasa and wanted to decorate it with their own puppets, thus creating the tradition.
The dolls used for the Yamakasa are however very different from the usual puppets. For one, the wood quality is very different and the Yamakasa dolls are mostly much bigger.
Only masters with alot of experience making puppets can make the Yamakasa dolls.
The decorations for the Kakiyma and Kazariyama both have to be made a light as possible beccause they have to be possible to be carried by only 20 people. For this reason the materials used are mainly paper, bamboo and a bit of cloth.
Because the puppet master can’t do all of the dolls alone, he is assisted by his apprentices, who learn the craft from him before becoming a master themselves.
Hakatas puppetmasters are mostly very old and don’t have that many apprentices, which is why the number of new masters is very low. The absence of puppetmasters could become a major issue for the festival in the next decades.