Early forms of talismans were the amagatsu ("heavenly child") and hoko dolls. Also known as guardian dolls or hoko-hina ("lowly child dolls"). In the Muromachi era (1333-1568), these figures were kept by a child's bedside to ward off evil. Amagatsu were of simple construction. Pairs of sticks were strapped together forming a T-shape; a stuffed silk cloth head was attached and clothing draped on it. It is thought that a child's clothes would be hung on the T-form of the amagatsu to take any evil elements away from the clothes. The hoko consisted of white silk stuffed with cotton and was presented to a child on his/her birth, often as an ubuyashinai (gift to a baby on the 3rd, 5th, and 9th nights). Used for both boys and girls, these dolls were a constant in their early life. Boys would keep them until the age of 15, when their "guardians" would be consecrated at a nearby shrine. (from Akanezumiya.com. Copyright 2005 Alan Pate).
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