This empress doll is part of a Hinamatsuri (Girls' Day or Doll Festival) set of dolls. She is dressed in a red and gold brocade kimono and wears a gold headdress. There are two spots painted on her forehead and she has long, black, styled hair, in Heian-era fashion. There are two tassels on the front of her robe, and she is holding a wooden sensu (folding fan) with two long tassels. The empress sits on a striped cushion, which rests on a gold and black lacquer base. The striped cushion is mainly made of straw and fits into an opening on the lacquer base.
Hinamatsuri, the Doll Festival or Girls' Day, is held annually on March 3 to celebrate the happiness and health of young girls. The holiday originated during the Edo period (1600-1868) to ward off evil spirits, and at some Hinamatsuri festivals today, people release paper dolls into the rivers to carry away sickness and bad fortune.
Setting up a display of special festival dolls in the house is fundamental to the festival; the display is usually put up in mid-February but put away as soon as the festival ends because of old superstitions. Hinamatsuri dolls wear Heian period (794-1192) clothing, and are placed in specific locations on a one-, five-, or seven-tiered platform covered with red felt (depending on the number of dolls owned). On the top tier, the emperor and empress dolls are placed in front of a miniature gold folding screen. The second tier holds the sannin kanjo, three ladies-in-waiting dolls, with takatsuki (round tables) holding sweets in between them. The gonin bayashi (five musicians) stand and sit on the third tier, playing a small taiko drum, a large ōtsuzumi drum, a kotsuzumi hand drum, or a yokobue (flute); the fifth musician is an utaika (singer). On the fourth tier are the daijin (court ministers): a young Minister of the Right and the older Minister of the Left, with a hishidai (diamond-shaped table) and a kakebanzen (covered-bowl table). The fifth tier features guards and/or servants amid a sakura (cherry tree) and an orange tree. The final two tiers hold an array of items, including clothing chests (nagamochi and tansu), hibachi braziers, tea ceremony utensils, and carriages/palanquins, among others.