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Japanese Good Luck Doll: An Oriental Unusual Gift That Came Straight from Japan

28.04.2021
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japan daruma doll

Japanese Daruma Doll Meaning

Japan is known for charming characters with unique and sometimes centuries-old stories. And some have entered the Western consciousness more strongly than the katana in the samurai. Such as many anime characters and heroes. However, the squat little bearded red tumbler dolls known as daruma have yet to find their way west. The Daruma doll is also known as the Dharma doll. Its design is rich in symbolism, and the Japanese consider it to be associated with good luck. The custom of drawing eyes is associated with the Daruma doll.

And this deity, for its part, brings happiness and good luck. The doll is made exclusively from materials of natural origin:

  • wood;
  • paper;
  • papier mache.

Therefore, the toy does not contain synthetic raw materials and additives harmful to the body. It is an oval shape without arms and legs, and the face is decorated with a mustache, beard, and eyes without pupils. The tumbler is painted in different shades.

Daruma Doll Meaning

Based on an ancient legend, the deity Bodhidharma meditated for 9 years, after which the limbs simply atrophied. Therefore, the doll is made without arms and legs. This is where the name comes from.

Daruma Meaning

A round, remotely resembling a bun, the toy actually symbolizes the deity Bodhidharma (in Japanese Bodaidaruma), bringing happiness. According to Shinto beliefs, Bodhidharma – Daruma, in gratitude for shelter on earth, will try to fulfill the desire of its owner. But only once a year! Therefore, the doll is often presented as a New Year’s gift.

Japanese Doll Eyes

daruma story

The owner makes a wish and draws a pupil in one of the doll’s eyes, and writes his name on her chin. Then japan Daruma doll is placed in a prominent place in the house, where it serves not only as a decoration but also as a constant reminder of the goal.

If a wish comes true this year, a second eye is added to the Japanese wishing doll as a token of gratitude. Otherwise, they are taken to the very temple where it was purchased (it always has the seal of the temple), burned there, and bought a new one. Burning symbolizes purification and means that a person has not abandoned his goal and is looking for new ways to realize it.

The burning of the Daruma doll is a ritual of purification so that God (kami, kamisama) understands that the one who made this wish has not abandoned his goals, but is looking for other possibilities of its realization.

This is a centuries-old tradition of Japan, a very positive, motivating tradition, with a slight enthusiasm, and on top of that, IT WORKS!

What Is a Daruma Doll?

Proof of the dedication of an unusual Japanese doll is that Daruma has a center of gravity shifted to the bottom. The inability to keep Japanese good luck dolls in a bent position indicates the perseverance of the person who made the desire and his determination to achieve the goal.

Daruma Doll Color Meaning

Special emphasis is placed on the color of Daruma. There are several selected shades in which it can be painted. Each color has its own meaning and affects a specific area in a person’s life.

Red is for happiness and good luck; purple – for health and longevity; yellow for safety and protection; gold color – for wealth and prosperity; white is for love and harmony.

  • Red is considered the most common color because it represents good luck, success, and happiness. Therefore, if your goals are related to these concepts, it is necessary to acquire a red doll.
  • White is preferable for people who strive for harmony in the family and finding true love.
  • The purple shade symbolizes longevity and good health. Usually, such a toy is given to people with poor health, as well as to the elderly.
  • The yellow color provides reliable protection and safety to the wearer.
  • You can buy a Daruma doll in a gold tone. In this case, you will be provided with wealth, prosperity, and prosperity.

Daruma Story

what is a daruma doll

In ancient Japan, dolls were not toys at all. The roots of the art of making decorative dolls, their veneration goes back to ancient times. Like other peoples with a distinctive culture, dolls were widely used mainly during festive rituals, symbolically depicting gods or people

The first mention of dolls in Japan is found in manuscripts dated 5-6 centuries BC. The most ancient are straw and clay dolls (they date back to the beginning of our era). Then the dolls served as protection from disease, natural disasters, and other misfortunes. The very word “doll” – ninge – consists of two hieroglyphs “man” and “form” and is translated from Japanese as “an image of a man.” It has long been believed that the soul of God enters into this image.

Traditional or folk dolls in Japan are extremely diverse and distinctive. Historically, the country has developed cultural centers, centers of folk arts and crafts, such as Nara, Kyoto, Kagoshima, which keep traditions in our time. Each prefecture, the district has its own specific, original samples of folk art.

Bodhidharma (Japanese pronunciation Bodai Daruma) is the Japanese founder of the Zen school of the Buddhist religion, who traveled to the Sunyan Mountains in China in the 510s. It was there that he established the famous Shaolin monastery. Through long meditations, Bodhidharma mastered the truths of the path of life, which he later passed on to his devoted disciples. The teacher died in 528, after which the famous daruma art was invented and named after him. And the founder himself was equated with a deity. Thus, the tumbler without arms and legs is over 1500 years old.

For a long time, the external outlines and shapes of the toy have changed, and only 2 centuries ago the doll acquired its modern look. Due to its rounded shape, the product cannot be placed in the lying position. The tumbler invariably returns to its stable initial position.

Daruma Doll Kanji Meaning

The doll is made only from natural raw materials, so the burning ritual can be carried out both in the temple and at home. When burned, the product does not melt or smoke, releasing harmful substances into the air. Like, for example, plastic products.

In Japan, it was customary to burn a doll that did not fulfill the owner’s wish. It was believed that the sins of a person served as a hindrance, therefore this burning is a ritual of purification, and not revenge, as in other religions. In addition, the owner of the toy makes it clear to God Kami that he is not going to give up his own goals but will achieve them in other ways. In ancient times, a doll was burned in a temple, but now you can do it on fire, in a fireplace, or in an ordinary stove.

Daruma Doll Now

daruma art

Usually, darums are sold in temples at prices ranging from 500 yen for small dolls (up to 5 centimeters in height) to 10 thousand for large ones (about 60 centimeters and above). As a rule, you can burn a daruma only in the temple where it was purchased – for this, the seal of the temple is put on it. It is customary to buy no more than one daruma per year. Burning Daruma is a purification ritual.

The armless, legless and blind doll, the daruma tumbler, is one of the most popular lucky charms in modern Japan. It is made of paper using the papier-mâché method, with a weight on the bottom, which ensures stability (a symbol of preservation by Bodhidrahma, the prototype of Daruma, the state of meditation).

The shifted center of gravity and the inability to keep Daruma in a bent position carries great meaning and indicates the persistence of the one who made the wish and his determination to reach the end, no matter what.

As soon as Daruma falls into your hands, you should do the following:

  • Step 1 – define a specific goal that you intend to achieve.
  • Step 2 – Paint over one of the eyes (it doesn’t matter if it is left or right) to show your desire to reach the goal.
  • Step 3 – Place the doll in a prominent place in the house so that while Daruma focuses on your goal, you do not stop thinking about her and go to meet her.
  • Step 4 – as soon as the goal is achieved (and this is how it will be), finish drawing the second eye of Daruma, so you say to her “Thank you!”
  • Step 5 – Write the achieved goal on the back of Daruma.

What’s next? And then you need to buy a new Daruma doll and fulfill your next wish!

Keep in mind that success comes only with a clear and correct setting of goals!

The key to success is a clear vision of what you want, a focus on results, and a determination to keep you going.

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