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Daruma (だるま)

Japanese. Name for a round to egg-shaped, Japanese, traditional doll, modeled after Bodhidharma (fg.), the Chinese originator of the physical training of the Shaolin monks and accredited with spreading Zen Buddhism. It is usually made of papier-mâché, has a round shape, is hollow and weighted at the bottom, so that it –akin to the pyit taing daung dolls (fig.) of Myanmaralways ends up standing upright again, when tilted over, regardless of how hard it has been thrown nor in which direction. Originally, it was –and usually today still is– red in colour, probably in imitation of the outer robe of high-ranking Chinese monks (fig.), and features a bearded face. In some models, the eyebrows resemble cranes (fig.), whereas the beard may be shaped looking like the carapaces of tortoises (fig.), two animals that are regarded as symbols of longevity and wisdom. However, nowadays Daruma dolls also occur in colours other than red, often solid and unable to tumble, and may differ greatly depending on region and artist. Sometimes, the eyes of Daruma dolls are left blank (fig.), in order to be filled in by its owner, when setting a certain goal. Upon setting the goal, only one eye will be filled in, while the other is left blank, until the goal is fulfilled. Hence, every time one glances at the one-eyed Daruma, one is reminded and motivated to work towards the goal's accomplishment. Traditionally, at the end of the year, all Daruma dolls are burned in a ceremony and new ones are bought. Since it always returns to an upright position, this knock-about toy is also regarded as a symbol of perseverance, as well as a talisman for good fortune. It is also known as Dharma Doll.