daruma

What is the meaning and origin of Daruma? Which way to put the eyes?

We Japanese have been familiar with Daruma-san since childhood through games such as “Niramekko” and “Daruma-san Koronda. Daruma-san has a charming appearance, and it is understandable that he is popular as a lucky charm for the New Year. They are also popular as objects to express wishes.

However, Daruma-san comes in many different colors and types, and I am quite interested in them, so I decided to do a little research.

What is the meaning and origin of Daruma?

Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the Kamakura period (1185-1333). One of them is Zen Buddhism. The founder of this Zen sect was the Indian monk Bodhidharma (Bodhidharma in Sanskrit).

He is also called Bodhidharma, Bodhidharma Daishi, or Bodhidharma Grandmaster. Daruma” is a figurine or toy in the shape of Bodhidharma meditating.

Most are red in color and made of papier-mâché, with white eyes. It is also common for the doll to make a wish, and when the wish is granted, the eyes are blackened.

Daruma dolls without arms and legs are based on the legend of Bodhidharma’s “Menpekikunen,” or nine years of life. It is said that Bodhidharma sat against the wall for nine years and attained enlightenment, but by that time his limbs had rotted away.

There is also a toy called “okiagarikoboshi,” which is originally different from Daruma dolls.

The round shape of the Daruma doll and the fact that many Daruma toys were sold with Daruma’s face written on them led to the confusion between the two.

Daruma dolls introduced from China during the Edo period are said to have been yellow in color.

How Daruma dolls with eyes are made

Daruma dolls without eyes are used to make wishes. Let’s take a look at the common ways of putting Daruma eyes on.

First, when praying, the right eye is put in. This is called “opening the eyes (kaigen). An auspicious day such as “Daian” is considered to be a good day.

When your wish comes true, put in your left eye.

In Daruma-san’s shoes, the left eye is put in first, followed by the right eye.

This is not an absolute rule, and there are differences according to sects and regions.

daruma

 What are the reasons for Daruma’s colors?

Reason for the red color

Daruma dolls come in a variety of colors, but red is by far the most common. This is because red has been thought to have the power to ward off evil since ancient times in Japan.

Red has also been used for celebrations and happy occasions, and has been considered good luck.

Daruma dolls in colors other than red

In recent years, Daruma dolls in colors other than red are not uncommon.

Here are some of the various colors available.

  • Black…… Black is said to bring luck and prosperity.
  • Gold … Said to bring money luck.
  • Yellow … Like gold, said to bring money luck.
  • White … Used in red and white, combined with red daruma and used for prayers for success
  • Green … Pray for good health and longevity
  • Purple … Pray for long life
  • Orange … Pray for fertility
  • Pink … Pray for the fulfillment of love

Types of Daruma dolls

Daruma dolls are made in various ways depending on the region.

Matsukawa Daruma 松川だるま

Daruma dolls are made in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. The front of the Daruma doll is blue and the back is red.

Shirakawa Daruma 白河だるま

Daruma dolls are made in Shirakawa City, Fukushima Prefecture. The red Daruma is a good-luck charm to ward off bad luck and ensure family safety, and the white Daruma is a good-luck charm to bring good fortune.

Takasaki Daruma 高崎だるま

Takasaki Daruma dolls are said to account for about 80% of all Daruma dolls produced in Japan. Most so-called “election daruma” are Takasaki daruma.

Koshigaya Daruma 越谷だるま

This Daruma is made in Koshigaya City, Saitama Prefecture. Also called Bushu Daruma, they are shipped all over the Kanto region and all over Japan.

Tokyo Daruma 東京だるま

Also called Tama Daruma, these dolls are made in western Tokyo.

Hime Daruma 姫だるま

A Daruma doll in the shape of a woman, made in Ehime Prefecture.

Toyo no Hime-Daruma 豊の姫だるま

A Daruma doll made in Oita Prefecture, also in the shape of a woman.

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Conclusion

Daruma is a doll without arms or legs that represents the sitting meditation of Daruma, the founder of Zen Buddhism who was born in South India and went to China. It is said that Daruma sat on a stone for nine years, so that his legs atrophied and he could no longer walk.

Most Daruma dolls are papier-mâché, painted red except for the face. They have heavy bottoms and are made to rise and fall. Daruma dolls are considered good luck charms because they rise up again after being knocked down. The eyes are usually white, and it is customary to draw eyeballs on the face when a wish is granted.

  • Daruma dolls are made in the shape of Bodaidaruma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism.
  • The red color of Daruma is believed to have the power to ward off evil.
  • Daruma’s eyes are usually placed on the right side when making a wish and on the left side when the wish is granted.

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