Have you ever heard of daruma? This funny Japanese paper mache doll that has the power to grant your wishes? Glory, protection, health or prosperity... Each daruma figurine has its virtues and it is up to you to choose them! The doll is said to be the incarnation of Bodhidharma, a famous Buddhist monk from India who created the Chan school, which later became the Zen school. It appeared in the 17th century in the city of Takasaki. The statuette was made by farmers in order to obtain a good harvest.
What does the daruma doll look like?
They are round figurines, without arms or legs, supposed to represent the face and the belly of the monk Bodhidarma. Originally from India, Bodhidarma is the famous master and precursor of Zen Buddhism as we know it in the West. It seems that he had big eyes and big moustaches. Without limbs, the statuette has a rounded shape. Moreover, it always gets back upright when it is knocked over like a tumbler. The daruma doll is often red, but we also find examples in green, yellow, white, pink or even purple. Each one has its own meaning.
The colors of daruma
The red daruma expresses success while pink expresses love and white is synonymous to happiness or luck. Those who seek protection would rather choose a black daruma. To keep or regain health, they will choose a green daruma. Yellow darumas will bring good fortune and wealth to their owner. Some traditional dolls have Japanese characters to indicate the type of wish to be fulfilled or the name of the owner. Their size varies from 15 to 60 cm, but we can also find very cute mini daruma.
The handmade daruma figurine
The dolls are made in Gunma prefecture by boiling paper which has been kneaded for a long time. Then glue is added and the paper paste is applied on a wooden mold. Once the balls are made, they are painted and then dried on bamboo poles.
The legend of daruma
Bodhidharma is said to have meditated in zazen position for nine years when his limbs fell off. He would have lived a long life of 150 years! Yes, meditation is preserving ;-)
How to make a wish?
As a real good luck charm, this Japanese figurine embodies luck, success and perseverance. You need to think about your wish while drawing the first pupil of the daruma in black ink. The daruma is then placed on a high shelf in the house as a reminder of the wish to be fulfilled. When the wish is fulfilled, the owner of the daruma adds ink to draw the second pupil. If the wish is not fulfilled, he returns the figurine to the temple where he bought it in order to have it burned. (A way of asking the kami for help).
Where to buy a daruma?
Daruma dolls are sold in Buddhist temples or in stores. They have a specific seal.
The daruma is an original and funny Japanese lucky charm which can be used as a piggy bank or other decorative objects. The ideal gift for Japan lovers.