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Daruma Doll

Updated on October 2, 2014


What is a Daruma doll?

Daruma dolls are also commonly known as "Dharma dolls" and "goal dolls." They are modeled after the Indian Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma when he is sitting in the zazen pose. Legend says, that Bodhidharma meditated for nine years straight without moving, which caused his limbs to shrivel up and fall off.

Daruma dolls are very round in shape, traditionally painted red, they have blank pupil-less eyes, are usually made out of paper mache, and are hollowed out on the inside. These dolls are tumbler dolls which means that they are made with extra weight on the bottom, so that even if they are tilted or have fallen over they will always get back into their upright and normal position. These dolls are made like this, because they are associated with the saying, "fall down seven times, get up eight," which means to stay determined and with whatever obstacle comes in your path, never back down. Daruma dolls symbolize never giving up on your dreams.

How to use the doll

Daruma dolls are usually given out or bought at the start of the new year, but they can still be given out throughout the year. The one who has received the doll will then set a personal goal for themselves that they'd like to complete whether it's with health, prosperity, love, success, etc. When one first receives the doll they then color in the doll's right eye while concentrating on the wish or goal they have set for themselves. Next, they would find it a place where they can constantly see it, to remind themselves of the goal they've set for themselves and to help them stay committed to their goal. When they've finally achieved their goal, they'd then color in the doll's left eye giving it full sight. Daruma dolls were made to help you stay motivated and manage your time well in completing your goal.

Daruma Burning Festival

Burning of the Daruma dolls

At the end of the year when you have completed your goal and you've filled in both eyes, you can take your Daruma doll to a temple or shrine to be burned in an enormous bonfire, then you can buy a new Daruma doll and set new goals for the upcoming year.


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