Named after the famous Zen monk Bodhidharma, in Japanese Daruma 達磨 or だ る ま, these usually rather small figures nowadays are lucky charms. Theycan generally be bought in temples. Again, there are different forms, the most frequent variant represents a bearded man with a red garment, who has a grim expression. Basically, the Daruma figure is a bounceback because they always get up, no matter how it is set down (okiagari 起 き 上 が り). Other variants include figures represent females (princess Daruma hime daruma 姫 達磨, woman Daruma daruma onna 女 達磨) and/or exhibit characteristics of each region.
Bodhidharma is a controversial historical figure occurring in many legends. Ancient texts describe him as a monk who traveled from India to China where he introduced the Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism. This from of buddhism came to Japan later and along with it, the stories about Bodhidharma. According to one legend, he supposed to meditate fro nine whole years before a wall. For this purpose, his eyelids were cut off to enable him to stay awake during meditation. As a consequence, most Daruma figures do not have eyelids.
Today, the Daruma figure is, as mentioned, mainly considered a lucky figure and purchased as such. The tradition goes back to the Daruma Temple (Darumadera 達磨 寺) located in Takasaki in north of Tokyo ( Gunma prefecture . On New Year, lucky charms were traditionally marked with the image of Bodhidharma and sold tothe temple visitors. Around the 18th century, iBodhidharma images were replaced by a figure, now known as Daruma, in order to satisfy the strong demand in lucky charms. Instead, producing new good luck charms every year, wooden model blocks were exhibited at the temples, which could beused by the visitors to build their own doll using their own papier mache. It is unknown when exactly this tradition was combined with the now commonly seen stand-up or bounce-back figures.