Daruma – Curiosities about the Japanese Lucky Doll

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The Daruma (だるま) is a kind of Japanese doll that represents Bodhidharma, a monk from India who founded Zen Buddhism in China. Dharma attained what he calls Buddhist enlightenment after meditating for a period of 9 years. It is said that he remained without moving or closing his eyes. Daruma is literally the Japanese pronunciation of Dharma. It can also be written with the characters 達磨 where (達) means to reach, reach, reach and (磨) means to grind, polish, cut and improve.

The daruma is a handmade doll and usually red in color. The wooden puppet is represented as a frightening and hideous figure but it is not evil. He is made without arms and legs and his eyes have no pupils. People often use a daruma for wishing or simply as a decoration and toy. Despite this, Daruma is rich in symbolism and is considered a talisman of luck and perseverance for the Japanese. In this article, we will see some details, curiosities and meanings of the doll.

Daruma - facts about the Japanese lucky doll

The meanings of the Daruma 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 diseases. A daruma has no eyes (pupil) because legend has it that the Dharma monk cut his eyelids to avoid dozing off during his 9 years of meditation in a cave. It is because of this dedication and sacrifice that daruma is related to hope, perseverance, realization of dreams and patience.

The dolls are sold without eyes, but according to tradition, you can paint one eye and make a wish and when it is fulfilled you paint the other. Some write their desire on their heart (behind it). Leave it in a visible place for you to remember your desire and run after it. It is recommended to burn the daruma when your wish is granted, they usually do this at a temple festival at the end of the year.

Daruma - facts about the Japanese lucky doll

The daruma is round, fat and lacks arms and legs because the monk spent years meditating with his arms and legs shrunken and atrophied over his red cloak. It is made in a rounded shape to avoid laying it down meaning that we should no longer give up on our dreams. 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.

See below the meaning of the different colors of a daruma:

  • Red: Good luck and happiness;
  • Yellow: Safety;
  • Blue: Health and longevity;
  • Black: Fortune and avoid bad luck;
  • White: Love, Harmony and Purity;
  • Golden – Wealth and prosperity;
  • Purple – Health and Longevity;
  • Orange: school success;
  • Green: Health and Fitness;
  • Silver: Social Status;
  • Purple: self-improvement and personality;
  • Blue: Education and Work Status;

Daruma - facts about the Japanese lucky doll

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.

Daruma - facts about the Japanese lucky doll

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:

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