Printed on the noren is Daruma. Daruma is the Japanese name given to the Indian priest Bodhidharma, who lived in 5th century A.D., and credited with introducing Zen Buddhism to China from India.(Zen was introduced to Japan later) Legend has it that he lost the use of his arms and legs after spending nine years meditating in a cave. Another legend has it that he cut off his eyelids (eye balls fell to the ground and sprouted into China's first green tea plant) because he dozed off during meditation and he was infuriated by it.
People here in Japan associate the word Daruma more with Daruma Dolls(shown below) than the priest himself. Many do not even know that the dolls are representation of the priest. As you can see in the picture the dolls are red roly-poly papier-mache. Just like the priest, they have no arms or legs and sit in a meditative pose with no eyes (also like the priest).They are heavy at the base and bounce back when tipped over, so it has become a symbol of optimism, good fortune and strong determination. People paint in one eye when they set out to do something and paint in the other one when they have achieved the goal. There are many products featuring daruma from tenugui towel to sensu folding fans.
JUN Gifts recommend Daruma Dolls as well.
Please click on the picture to go to Daruma
Doll Page. Perfect gift from Japan!
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