Pick Up A Daruma Doll

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CRAFT: Pick Up a Daruma Doll

Wide-eyed, red and round, face set with a look of fierce determination, Daruma – Japan’s iconic wishing doll – is a symbol of perseverance and good fortune. Modelled on Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism, Daruma dolls are rich in symbolism and ancient custom.

Similar in shape to roly-poly okiagari toys, Daruma dolls are made from hollow washi papier-mâché with a weight in the base that makes them impossible to knock down. A talisman of luck but more importantly perseverance, Daruma’s incapacity to fall is a symbol of grit and persistence. Believed to bring tenacity and success to a particular goal, a Daruma doll’s eyes, which are at first blank, are given black pupils by the owner. In Japanese folklore, those wanting to achieve their goal would promise Daruma his eyesight in exchange for his help, painting one eye on setting their goal, and the second on achieving it. Daruma’s facial hair, too, is not just decorative but a symbol of longevity. Incorporating motifs commonly used as emblems of endurance, Daruma’s eyebrows are shaped to look like cranes and his beard represents two turtles. Traditionally red, Daruma dolls today can be found in a variety of colours each with its own significance, for example gold Daruma are linked to money and green to health and wellbeing.

Originating in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, the city remains the centre for Daruma production, crafting and distributing over 80% of Japan’s dolls. Hand-made and hand-painted, Daruma dolls can be found in temples and shops across Japan, offering the chance to take home a gift of encouragement or pocket full of fortune.

Image by minekaoru from Pixabay

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