Daruma Doll - Physical Features and Symbolism - Eyes

Eyes

The eyes of Daruma are often blank when sold. Monte A. Greer, author of Daruma Eyes, described the "oversized symmetrical round blank white eyes" as a means to keep track of goals or big tasks and motivate them to work to the finish. The recipient of the doll fills in one eye upon setting the goal, then the other upon fulfilling it. In this way, every time they see the one-eyed Daruma, they recall the goal. One explanation how this custom started says that in order to motivate Daruma-san to grant your wish, you promise to give him full sight once the goal is accomplished. This practice might also have something to do with the "enlightenment", the ideal attainment of Buddhism. This custom has led to a phrase in Japanese translated as "Both Eyes Open". Referring to "opening" the second eye, it expresses the realization of a goal. Traditionally, the Daruma was purchased as a household, and that only the head of the household would paint in the eyes.

One example of this are politicians during election time. Political parties have often been shown at their headquarters with large Daruma dolls and amulets purchased from local temples as a prayer for victory. This practice was highlighted in a 1967 article in Time magazine: "Last week, in the Tokyo headquarters of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Premier Eisaku Satō dipped a sumi brush into an ink stone and with swift strokes daubed in the dark right eye of his Daruma. 'The eyes,' he remarked when he had finished, 'are as big as my own.'"

In the late 1990s, several groups of human rights activists described the practice of making Daruma without eyes (and the practices associated with them) as discriminatory against the blind. Some media organizations and politicians stopped showing eyeless daruma altogether to avoid negative publicity.

Read more about this topic:  Daruma Doll, Physical Features and Symbolism

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Famous quotes containing the word eyes:

    Eyes that last I saw in tears
    Through division
    Here in death’s dream kingdom
    The golden vision reappears
    I see the eyes but not the tears
    This is my affliction
    —T.S. (Thomas Stearns)

    The eyes those silent tongues of love.
    Miguel De Cervantes (1547–1616)

    There is the fear that we shan’t prove worthy in the eyes of someone who knows us at least as well as we know ourselves. That is the fear of God. And there is the fear of Man—fear that men won’t understand us and we shall be cut of from them.
    Robert Frost (1874–1963)