How to Make Daruma Dolls

Daruma comes from the Sanskrit word Dharma. It is meant to represent a monk who sat in meditation for so long that his arms and legs fell off. But, because he was so spiritually enlightened, he was even more stable than before and always remained upright even when tilted. The round-faced daruma represents Emperor Ojin as a child. His red clothing is a protective wrap. Since the 1700s this daruma has been given to the sick to encourage recovery.

Another tradition involving darumas occurs at New Years when the dolls are thrown into yards and the open front doors of friends. The weighted toy quickly returns to its upright position which symbolizes a quick recovery from any unfortunate incident during the coming year. The conical hat daruma symbolizes the farmers of Niigata prefecture as a joke on themselves. The conical hats are made from cypress trees.

To make your own good luck daruma, you will need a few materials which include: any size plastic separating eggs, masking tape, a few pebbles for nesting in the bottom of the eggs, a small-tipped brush, acrylic or tempera paint (white, flesh, red, and black), a fine-tipped marker or pencil, and spray paint or gold markers. First, put the pebbles in the base of the fattest egg half. Put a piece of masking tape over them to hold them in place. Put the egg together and see if it balances, wobbles, or tips. Adjust the pebbles to make the egg balance. Now, cover the egg with 1 to 2 inches of masking tape. If you are adding a cone hat, tape on two triangles and adjust until the cone is sharp.

Cover the triangles with tape. With your tempera paints, acrylic or spray paints, decorate the taped egg. Make a paper ring and place your painted daruma on it to dry. WIth a pencil, draw a face for your daruma. Paint the face with white or flesh-colored paint. After it has completely dried, add facial features with your pencil. To follow with tradition, leave one or both eyes blank. When your wish comes true, the eye is drawn on the daruma.

These are easy to make and will give your kids a cultural, art, and social studies lesson all in one!

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