Daruma is an iconic Japanese doll that symbolizes perseverance, willpower and goal achievement. It is a popular good luck charm in Japan, which is often used to help people achieve their goals and dreams.
They are fat, rounded, wooden dolls, red in color. They don't have eyes, and can even be scary, but the idea is genius. In this article, we will explore the history, meanings and curiosities of this fascinating and important figure in Japanese culture.
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The Origin and History of Daruma
Daruma is a Japanese figure representing Bodhidharma, an Indian monk who founded Zen Buddhism in China. Bodhidharma attained Buddhist enlightenment after nine years of meditation, during which he remained motionless with his eyes open.
Daruma is a handcrafted doll made of wood, usually red in color. Although it may look scary, the doll is not malevolent, having been characterized by having no arms or legs and its eyes having no pupils.
People often use Daruma for wishing or as a decoration and toy. Despite this, the doll is rich in symbolism, being considered a talisman of good luck and perseverance for the Japanese.
The Meaning of Daruma
The Daruma figure is a tribute to Bodhidharma. The name can be written with the ideograms “達磨” where (達) means to reach and (磨) means to grind, polish, cut and improve.
Daruma is often seen as a symbol of perseverance and willpower, as the doll remains upright even when pushed to the side. So, we must never give up on our dreams.
This represents the idea that, regardless of the obstacles that present themselves, we must continue to strive and persevere towards our goals.
Characteristics of the Doll
The daruma is red because that color represents the robe of a high-ranking priest. It is also believed that this color wards off the evil eye and disease.
A daruma has no eyes (pupil) because legend has it that the monk Dharma cut off his eyelids to avoid dozing off during his 9 years of meditation in a cave.
The daruma is round, fat and does not have arms and legs because the monk spent years meditating with his arms and legs shrunken and atrophied on the red cloak.
It is because of this dedication and sacrifice that daruma is related to hope, perseverance, dream fulfillment and patience.
His eyebrows are handcrafted in the shape of a tsuru bird and his beard in the shape of a turtle. These are symbols of long life in Japan.
How to use Daruma?
During Shougatsu, Japanese families often buy Darumas to symbolize their wishes and goals for the new year.
The tradition is to write a goal or wish on the back of the doll and then color in one of the eyes. When the goal is achieved, the second eye is colored to symbolize success.
The process of coloring the eyes is a way to keep the goal in mind and focus on achieving your dreams. Leave it in a visible place so you can remember your wish and run after it.
It is recommended to burn the daruma when your wish is fulfilled, they usually do this in a festival called Setsubun. This act performed in the temple symbolizes the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.
We recommend reading: Oshougatsu – New Year in Japan
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Meaning of Daruma Colors
Daruma is often produced in a variety of colors, although the most common color is red. Colors have specific meanings, being chosen based on the wishes and goals of the person using them.
Here are some examples of colors and their meanings:
- Red: it is the most common color and represents good luck and success. It is also often associated with happiness and protection from evil.
- White: it represents love, purity and harmony, as well as new beginnings and opportunities.
- Yellow: symbolizes wealth, security and prosperity. It can also be associated with spiritual enlightenment and the search for truth.
- Green: represents health and growth. It can also be related to renewal and personal development. It also symbolizes Health and Fitness;
- Blue: symbolizes health, longevity, tranquility and calm. It can also be related to harmony and emotional stability. It may also involve Education and Work Status;
- Pink: represents love and romance. It can also be associated with friendship and compassion.
- Black: Fortune and avoid bad luck;
- Golden: Wealth and prosperity;
- Purple: Health and Longevity;
- Orange: school success;
- Silver: Status and Social Position;
- Purple: self-improvement and personality;
When choosing the color of the doll, it is important to consider the objective or desire that you want to achieve. Each color can be used to help manifest a specific desire or goal, and many people choose the color based on their own personal beliefs and needs.
How are Daruma made?
Darumas are produced by hand, with each doll being individually made by expert artisans. Making a Daruma involves several steps, including shaping the doll's body, applying multiple layers of papier-mâché, and hand-painting.
Below are some of the steps in the Daruma manufacturing process:
- Body molding: The first step involves modeling the doll's body in a wooden form. The body is formed from several layers of wet papier mache and molded into an oval or round shape.
- Drying: After shaping, the body is left to dry naturally. This can take several days or weeks, depending on the size of the doll.
- Painting: After the body is dry, it is hand-painted in the chosen color. The red color is the most common, but as mentioned earlier, they can be found in other colors.
- Decoration: After painting, Daruma is decorated with a beard, eyebrows and other details. The eyes are left pupilless so the owner can paint them as desired.
- Packaging: Finally, the doll is packed in a box and ready to be sold.
Finding the Lucky Doll
Takasai in Gunma represents 80% of the production of these handmade dolls in the country. This town has a long history in the production of darumas since the 17th century, where farmers depended on a good harvest and used the dolls as an amulet. There is even a special shrine for the Daruma.
Darumas come in different sizes and shapes, they are usually between 6 to 75 centimeters. There are female versions called Hime Daruma, which are often bought by parents to protect babies. Although they sell the dolls, it is not recommended to buy them for ourselves, as this is not good luck! So if you want a daruma, ask a friend as a gift.
In the past, some troll artists from the Edo Period portrayed darumas in phallic forms. They related it to penises because both of them can't lie down. Even the prostitutes of the time earned the nickname of daruma because they left the clients’ Malaquias standing…
Jokes and commercial intentions aside, a Daruma doll represents three things: your goal, your action, and the outcome. What do you think of these Japanese dolls? Know any additional information to add via a comment? Thank you for sharing and we recommend you also read: