Performance – Daruma

Alistair Gentry 2016.

Alistair Gentry 2016.

A daruma is a Japanese papier-maché doll symbolising good luck and perseverance. The eyes are usually blank at first (as seen in my picture below); the owner paints one eye on when they set themselves a goal, and the other eye is painted when the goal is achieved. At the end of every year, used daruma are taken to a temple to be burned.

Photo by Alistair Gentry, Tokyo 2015.

Photo by Alistair Gentry, Tokyo 2015.

MiyajimaJizoDaruma copy

Ema (wooden prayer or wishing plaques) at a Buddhist temple on Miyajima, Japan. Photo by Alistair Gentry 2015.

Daruma are supposedly inspired by the 4th/5th century Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, who is credited with bringing Ch’an (later Zen) Buddhism to Japan. He’s also credited with staring at a wall for nine years until his arms and legs fell off, hence the look of the daruma.

BodhidharmaYoshitoshi1887

Ukiyo-e (woodblock print) of Bodhidharma by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, 1887.