If you’ve ever visited Japan, you’ll recognise the Daruma Doll, a traditional Japanese Doll modelled after the founder of Buddhism.
If you’ve ever visited Japan, you’ll recognise the Daruma Doll, a traditional Japanese Doll modelled after the founder of Buddhism, Bodhidharma, symbolising good luck in Japanese culture.
While the red bulbous shape is iconic, there are some more intricate details that you might not have noticed about the doll, especially when it comes to the facial hair, which is styled after two animals that are all known in Asian tradition to represent longevity; the crane and the tortoise. Look closely at the beard to spot the (very) abstract tortoise, and the cranes in the eyebrows!
Daruma Dolls are purchased with two blank white eyes and are useful if, like this author, you have a habit of setting goals to completely forget them, until months later you find the corner of that dusty self-help book poking out from under the bed. When setting a goal, the left eye is painted black and will remain staring at you judgementally until that goal is achieved, when the right eye is also filled in.
Although a symbol of good luck, the Daruma Doll has a dark origin - we recommend that the squeamish among you turn the card over now.
Bodhidharma was a monk well practised in the art of “wall-gazing”, and according to mythology once sat in a meditative state without moving for nine whole years, causing his arms and legs to fall off from atrophy. Another legend suggests that when he finally succumbed to sleep (well-earned, one would think), he was so angry at himself that he cut his own eyelids off to avoid ever making the same mistake, hence the design of the doll today. We did warn you!