Japanese daruma is the Japanese name for Bodhidharma (Japanese pronunciation of Dharma). The daruma is a Japanese lucky charm made of papier-mâché figurine that is shaped like a Buddhist monk. A daruma is above all, in Japanese culture, a figurine of wishes, luck and prosperity. Darumas are hollow, rounded papier-mâché figurines, without arms or legs, modeled after Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma was an Indian cleric of the Dhyāna Buddhist sect who was responsible for the creation of the school of Zen Buddhism
According to tradition he would have remained in meditation in the zazen position for nine years and would have lived up to 150 years. Legend has it that Bodhidharma's legs and arms eventually rot, which is the origin of the darumas' tumbling form. The particular shape of the statuette and its distribution of masses allow it to always stand upright regardless of its initial position. Originally from Takasaki, in Gunma prefecture, the darumas were created in the 18th century by a monk for the attention of his followers. Darumas can still be obtained from Buddhist temples or from nearby shops. The smallest are around 15 cm in height and the largest are around 60 cm in height. Usually only one started daruma at a time
The statuettes are most often red but sometimes yellow, green, purple or white. The face of the figurine is mustached and bearded, the eyes are initially white and without irises. Some figurines have painted characters on their cheeks explaining the type of wish of their owner (glory, wealth, health, protection of their loved ones). The owner's first name can be written on the chin of the figurine.