History and commercialization
The current popular symbolism associated with Daruma as a good luck charm in part originated with the Daruma-dera(Temple of Daruma) in the city of Takasaki (Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo). Josef Kyburz, Author of "Omocha": Things to Play (Or Not to Play) with, explained that the founder of Daruma-Dera would draw New Year's charms depicting Bodhidharma. The parishioners would keep these charms to "bring happiness and prosperity and ward off accidents and misfortune".
It is believed that the Daruma figurine then originated from this region when the ninth priest, Togaku, found a solution to handle the constant requests of the parishioners for new charms. The charms were always given with an effectiveness of one year, so the people required new ones every year. He solved this by entrusting them with the making of their own Daruma charms near the beginning of the Meiwa Period (1764–72). The temple made wooden block molds for the people to use. The peasants then used these molds to make three-dimensional papier-mâché charms.
Kyburz notes that though it is unknown when the Daruma figurine combined with the tumbler doll, the two were well recognized as synonymous by the mid-19th century. The doll quickly grew in popularity, becoming a mascot of the region. This was due greatly in part to fact that the majority of the families were silk farmers, a crop which requires a great deal of luck for success.
There is an annual Daruma Doll Festival held by the city of Takasaki in celebration of being the proclaimed birthplace of the Daruma doll. The celebration is held at the Shorinzan, the name of Takasaki's "Daruma-Dera". According to the Takasaki City website, "Over 400,000 people from all over the Kanto Plain come to buy new good-luck dolls for the year. Takasaki produces 80% of Japan's Daruma dolls."
Darumas are still usually made of papier-mâché, have a round shape, are hollow, and weighted at the bottom in a way that it will always return to an upright position when tilted over. In Japanese a roly-poly toy is called okiagari.meaning to get up (oki) and arise (agari). This characteristic has come to symbolize the ability to have success, overcome adversity, and recover from misfortune.
- Matryoshka, the Russian doll, is said to be inspired by the Daruma doll.
- Jenna Elfman played Dharma on TV's Dharma and Greg. Her husband is named Bodhi -- http://bit.ly/ZA1IpM -- and he's composer Danny Elfman's nephew (Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman, Simpsons, etc. themes) http://www.imdb.com/
Ms. Dow Antiques Blog 'Tique Talk is published by msdowantiques.com
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