Out of stock
The Daruma doll, also known as a Dharma doll, is a hollow, round, Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. These dolls, though typically red and depicting a bearded man (Dharma), vary greatly in color and design depending on region and artist. Though considered an omocha, meaning toy, Daruma has a design that is rich in symbolism and is regarded more as a talisman of good luck to the Japanese. Daruma dolls are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck, making them a popular gift of encouragement. The doll has also been commercialized by many Buddhist temples to use alongside goal setting.
The current popular symbolism associated with Daruma as a good luck charm in part originated with the Daruma-dera (Temple of Daruma) in the city of Takasaki (Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo). Josef Kyburz, author of "Omocha": Things to Play (Or Not to Play) with, explained that the founder of Daruma-Dera would draw New Year’s charms depicting Bodhidharma. The parishioners would keep these charms to "bring happiness and prosperity and ward off accidents and misfortune".
It is believed that the Daruma figurine then originated from this region when the ninth priest, Togaku, found a solution to handle the constant requests of the parishioners for new charms. The charms were always given with an effectiveness of one year, so the people required new ones every year. He solved this by entrusting them with the making of their own Daruma charms near the beginning of the Meiwa period (1764–72). The temple made wooden block molds for the people to use. The peasants then used these molds to make three-dimensional papier-mâché charms.
Kyburz notes that though it is unknown when the Daruma figurine combined with the tumbler doll; the two were well recognized as synonymous by the mid-19th century. The doll quickly grew in popularity, becoming a mascot of the region. This was due greatly in part to fact that the majority of the families were silk farmers, a crop which requires a great deal of luck for success.
Darumas are still usually made of papier-mâché, have a round shape, are hollow, and weighted at the bottom so that they will always return to an upright position when tilted over. In Japanese a roly-poly toy is called okiagari, meaning to get up (oki) and arise (agari). This characteristic has come to symbolize the ability to have success, overcome adversity, and recover from misfortune. In Japanese popular culture on cards, banners, and books, Daruma is often illustrated alongside the phrase "Nanakorobi Yaoki," translated to mean "seven times down, eight times up". One example of this from outside Japan is Alan Gettis' book, "Seven Times Down, Eight Times Up: Landing on Your Feet in an Upside-down World," which recalls the Story of Daruma-san in the introduction.
The tumbler doll style is similar to an earlier toy called the Okiagari Koboshi, a little self-righting monk which was popular in the Kinki region during the mid-17th century. The original okiagari toy, however, is said to have been introduced from Ming China around 1368-1644.