Japanese Daruma dolls
Despite the fact that Japan has many lucky objects, the Daruma doll is surely a favourite. The historical papier-mâché sculptures are employed by their owners to assist them achieve their goals since they are said to have supernatural and psychological abilities.
Learn the background and significance of these lucky charms by reading on.
A Daruma doll is what?
A Daruma doll is a 17th-century Japanese doll that is hollow, spherical, and made of wood. The original forms of the statues were usually made by farmers in Takasaki as charms to be sanctified by monks. They had faith that the dolls would bring them a bountiful harvest, and they sold them to increase their income in lean times. The custom of utilising the Daruma for good luck expanded throughout the nation over the following few years.
These days, Daruma dolls are frequently purchased at the start of the Japanese new year in the hope that they may assist you in reaching your objectives. They can be discovered inside many homes as well as in the Japanese storefront windows and cafe shelves. They are also a well-liked souvenir for tourists to Japan who want to bring a lucky charm back with them.
Daruma dolls stand for whom?
The Daruma is based on Bodhidharma, a monk who flourished in the fifth to sixth centuries and is known in Japanese as Daruma-Daishi. He is recognised as the creator of Zen Buddhism and the Zazen form of sitting meditation.
According to legend, Bodhidharma spent nine years gazing at a blank wall while engaged in intense meditation. After briefly closing his eyes, he slit his own eyelids off in rage at himself for losing patience. Green tea leaves dropped to the ground and blossomed where they landed. To keep awake, many Buddhist monks drink green tea.
After years of inactivity, Bodhidharma’s limbs and legs simply withered away in addition to removing his eyelids. But the daring spirit of Bodhidharma survived. The folklore character is still represented today by Daruma dolls, which have wide-open eyes and half – human bodies.
Daruma dolls are offered for sale with huge, vacant eyes. The missing pupils are supposed to be painted on by the doll’s owner. Once your objective has been chosen, you paint one eye to symbolise your dedication to it. Upon reaching your objective, you paint the second eye, returning the god’s vision as a token of appreciation.
Although the Daruma’s eyebrows and beard are painted to resemble Bodhidharma’s facial hair, they also have important symbolic importance. The beard is made to resemble a turtle, while the eyebrows are shaped like cranes. This is due to the fact that the two creatures stand for endurance. The quote, “The crane lives 1,000 years, the turtle 10,000,” is from a proverb in Japanese.
Folklore holds that the Daruma doll’s spherical shape symbolises Bodhidharma’s half – human form, but there is more to it than that. If they were pushed over, the initial dolls were designed to swing back into the upright posture. This serves as a reminder to persevere despite setbacks and to always get back up after falling. This also makes reference to the Japanese proverb “7 times down, 8 times up,” or nanakorobi yaoki.
Under the Daruma’s visage, the Kanji symbols for “luck,” “success,” and “persistence” are occasionally written. To serve as a constant reminder of their objective, some people cover their own unique wish onto their doll.
Daruma dolls come in a variety of colours, but red is by far the most popular. Although historians are divided on the reason, some believe that red stands for the hue of Bodhidharma’s robe. Some people think that red represents superhuman abilities. Japanese people used to decorate their entrances with red ropes or wear red apparel or jewellery in the past. This was an effort to prevent the “smallpox god” from entering their homes and infecting them. Daruma dolls have been used to treat ailments and aid in rehabilitation through history.
Daruma dolls are also available in several hues, such as pink, white, and gold. The various hues represent various wishes or goals. What some of the colours are thought to represent are listed below. It should be mentioned that there are various viewpoints on this, therefore this list shouldn’t be considered to be absolute.
Yellow or Gold: Fortune and notoriety
Black: Protection against Unluck
Success in School: Orange
Blue: Employment and Education Status
Green: Fitness and Health
Purple: Personal development
Pink: Romance and Love
Sterling: Social Standing
Daruma dolls: How are they made?
North of Tokyo, in the city of Takasaki, the majority of Japan’s Daruma dolls are produced. They are constructed out of washi, a unique type of handmade papier-mâché. Making washi is an art form in and of itself, and the time-consuming practise has even been recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural asset. Fibers from the inner bark of the gampi tree, mitsumata shrub, or paper mulberry (kzo) bush are used to make the substance.
Utilizing a Daruma Doll
You paint on the first eye after giving your Daruma a special wish. The doll is then placed in a prominent location in your house or place of business so you may see it and be reminded to strive toward your goal each day. Once that objective has been accomplished, the second eye is colored in, and occasionally the wish is written on the reverse.
A Daruma doll needs to be returned to the church where it was purchased after a year in order to be used properly. Even though you haven’t yet fulfilled your aim, burning the doll will release the deity. In several temples all around Japan, there is even a ceremony called daruma kuyo or dondoyaki where thousands of people flock to have their dolls blessed before a large-scale ritual burning. The procedure then begins again when you purchase a new doll as a symbol of your renewed commitment.