This emperor doll is part of a Hinamatsuri (Girls' Day or Doll Festival) set of figures. He is dressed in a black brocade kimono with a red and gray satin lining, and he wears a gold cap. There are two spots on his forehead. He sits on a white cushion on top of a striped cushion, which rests on a black and gold lacquer base. The striped cushion is mostly made of straw and fits into an opening of the black lacquer base. The emperor holds a long sword.
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.