Daruma is the Japanese name for Bodhidharma, the saint from India who is believed to have founded Zen Buddhism sometime in the 5th or 6th century. Supposedly he meditated for nine years (some say seven years) without closing his eyes before achieving enlightenment. In Japan he is often depicted as a limbless doll (Daruma’s arms and legs shriveled during his meditation years) that returns upright when knocked over. As such he symbolizes success due to determination and overcoming misfortune.

The blocky geometric design on this panel identifies it as coming from Kurume, in Fukuoka prefecture. The larger Daruma doll is decorated with chrysanthemums and a kara kusa (Chinese grass) vine.

Copyright 2006 Jeffrey Krauss and Ann Marie Moeller