Sunday, August 21, 2011

Daruma Doll

Daruma Dolls are hollow, round Japanese dolls modeled after Bodhidharma and they are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck in Japan.

Bodhidharma is said to be a monk who lived  in the 6th century and founded Zen Buddhism.  According to the book, he was born as the third son to a king in South India. Following the instructions of his old master, he left his kingdom to live in China to study Buddhism.  He soon gained a reputation for his practice of wall-gazing.  He sat facing a wall in meditation for as long as nine years without moving, which caused his legs to fall off. 
Another popular legend is that after falling asleep during his nine-year meditation, he got angry with himself and cut off his eyelids to avoid ever falling asleep again.  And his discarded eyelids are said to have sprouted the first tea plant. From these stories he is regarded as man of strong will and perseverance.

Daruma dolls are usually made of papier-marche and have a red, round shape weighted at the bottom in order to return to an upright position when tilted over.  These tumbler dolls symbolize the ability to overcome adversity and have success.

The eyes of Daruma dolls are blank when sold.  The oversized round, blank, white eyes are depicted as a means to stay focused on one's goal . People fill in one eye upon setting a goal, and when the goal is achieved, they fulfill another eye.  Politicians during election time are a good example of this. When they get elected, politicians fulfill the blank eye of their Daruma dolls with India ink.

My Daruma doll has still both blank eyes. I have to set my goal first.


  1. I've got a question: while he was making the practice of gazing a wall for nine years without move, how did he deal with nutritional and nature's call problems?