Daruma
US $290
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Daruma
Papers – cartridge, Optix, metallic
Framed size 914 x 305mm
 
What is it?
A daruma is a hollow, round doll made of paper mache, which when tipped over will right itself.  A daruma is a good luck charm. They come with blank eyes, and one fills in one eye to wish for something and the other eye when they reach their goal.
The ability for the Daruma to right itself when tipped (okiagari) means the Daruma symbolises success, overcoming adversity, and recovering from misfortune. An expression connected to Daruma is "seven times down, eight times up". Words meaning luck, fortune, perseverance etc are written on the Daruma.
Its design is based on Bodhidharma the founder of Zen Buddhism. They are typically red, but their colours and designs vary according to the region they are made in. They represent a symbol of perseverance and good luck.
History
Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th/6th century AD and is said to be the one who brought Ch'an (Zen) to China. Legend claims that he sat facing a wall in meditation for a period of nine years without moving, which caused his legs and arms to fall off from atrophy. He became angry with himself for falling asleep during his nine-year meditation and cut off his eyelids to avoid ever falling asleep again. Hence Daruma have no arms or legs or eyes.
During the late Edo period (1600s to 1868) they believed the God of Smallpox liked red and they built shrines in this colour and hung red strips of paper on ropes around the house of infected people. The sick would wear a red robe, and red Darumas were offered to the God. 
Fun Facts
  • In the late 1990s some human rights activists described the practice of making Daruma without eyes as discriminatory against the blind.
  • Daruma's facial hair is designed in the shape of cranes and a tortoise. They are associated with longevity.
  • In the Edo Period merchants were considered the lowest of classes. They liked to have fun at the expense of the higher classes. They made Darumas as females and prostitutes.
  • Every time the owner sees their one-eyed Daruma, they remember their goal. When the goal is fulfilled the owner is restoring the sight of the Daruma.
  • Traditionally, only the head of the household would paint in the eyes.
  • After one year the dolls are taken back to their place of origin and burned in order to free the god. This process is a renewal of one’s vow.
  • Political parties often have large Daruma dolls in their offices as a prayer for victory.


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