If you have been to Japan or have some idea about Japanese culture, then the “Daruma” is not new to you. Daruma is a representative image of Japan. A lot of souvenir shops sell statues of Daruma as well as small objects inspired by Daruma. The Daruma has no limbs and is round, which means even if it is knocked down, it will bounce back symbolic of endurance. A Daruma is deeply loved in Japan and is considered very auspicious.
Why is a daruma round?
Daruma is not a mythological figure but actually based on Bodhidharma, a sage from the 5th-6th century.
According to legend, Bodhidharma devoted his life to Buddhism. He meditated for nine straight years causing his hands and feet to shrink. And this resulted in the Daruma being round with no hands or feet. When seen from behind, the Daruma looks like a ball.
Colors of Daruma
Daruma in Japan is mostly red because red is reminiscent of blood and fire; it is considered to be a color that is known to ward off evil since ancient times. Red is also know to have been derived from the color of the monk’s robes. You will also find white Daruma, and both red and white are auspicious colors in Japan. Over the years, Daruma have been sold in various colors and each one is said to have a different meaning. For instance, purple is for self-improvement and personality, yellow for money or fame, green for health and fitness.
Why does the Daruma have no eyes?
Have you noticed that many Daruma dolls have no eyes or only one eye painted when sold.
80% of Japan’s Daruma dolls are produced in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, and are usually made of papier-mâché.
In Takasaki, it is said that you buy a Daruma without any eyes. On buying one, you make a wish by painting the left eye first. Once the wish is fulfilled or your goal achieved, you paint the other eye. Thus, the Daruma is said to grant wishes and help you accomplish your goals.
Some people paint the eyes by themselves while others visit a temple and ask a priest to write down an auspicious character.
The image above says that if you have a new Daruma, then write the Bonji for “aa” in the left eye and on an old Daruma, write “un” in the right eye. This sound together is the Japanese version of “om,” the sound of the vibration of the universe.
Basically, if you see a Daruma with no eyes or only with one eye, don’t be surprised, and feel like you are getting a defective piece. On the contrary, it is recommended that you do as the Japanese do, buy one that has no eyes yet, make a wish, and then work hard to achieve it!