Babushka / Matryoshka Russian dolls / Japanese Daruma Dolls

The Babuschka or Matryoshka dolls are based on Daruma Dolls and the Kokeshi Wooden Japanese Dolls

Russian-Matroshka dolls when opened reveal even more smaller dolls.

Daruma dolls: The Daruma doll – with grim countenance, moustace and beard, and absence of limbs – is based upon the historical figure BodhiDharma: the 6th century founder of Zen Buddhism (the Japanese name Daruma comes from Dharma). According to legend, BodhiDharma meditated for nine years while staring at a cave wall – he lost the use of his arms and legs to atrophy (thus the absence of arms and legs on the Daruma doll). He is known for his distinctive beard and moustache, and a harsh temper.

The eyes of the Japanese Daruma doll are left intentionally blank when made. The owner will then make a wish while painting-in the pupil of one eye (typically the right eye). When the wish has been fulfilled, the owner will paint-in the remaining pupil. The Daruma doll is typically displayed in a high visible location in the home or workplace – as a reminder of a goal or wish unfulfilled. The doll’s low centre of gravity makes it naturally self-righting when toppled – supporting its association with persistence and optimism.

In recent culture: this figure was a design inspiration for Japanese Unazukin.

This is such a pretty Daruma gown. I saw it at the flickr account of Blue Ruin1 There are some more beautiful old picture post-card images of this kind really well worth seeing if you are into Japanese culture.

Hime Daruma Hime Daruma dolls were originally made in the childhood image of Emperor Ojin, because his mother, Empress Jingu, visited Dogo hot spring when she was pregnant, and she wished for the sound growth of her unborn child. So, they are popular as an amulet for having an easy delivery.


Princess Daruma as a Pair 姫達磨一組 This is a different version of the Matsuyama Hime Daruma. The Japanese spelling uses the Chinese characters for Daruma to describe this pair.


The Lady is in red and the husband in a dark blue or white brocade dress to represent the empress Jinguu and her husband, the emperor Chuuai. These dolls are usually given as a present for a wedding. Even nowadays pairs in big sizes of more than 70 centimetres are sold at local shops all over the Island of Shikoku. The Princess of this pair will remind the young bride of her diligent role in the family and the respect she owes to her mother in law. This couple is also a talisman for good luck and is given to a woman at the day of the childbirth. Mother and the newborn baby will then be of good health and protected from evil for one year long.

“The historical Bodhidharma (known as Daruma in Japan) was an Indian sage who lived sometime in the fifth or sixth century AD. He is commonly considered the founder of Chan (Zen) Buddhism 禅, and credited with Chan’s introduction to China. (Important Note: Zen is the term used in Japan, but Daruma’s philosophy arrived first in China, where it flowered and was called Chan Buddhism. Only centuries later does it bloom in Japan, where it is called Zen). See: here.

Practically nothing is known about Bodhidharma or his teachings. Early Chinese texts provide scant information, except to say he was a pious monk from India who came to China and introduced a form of meditation that involved “gazing at cave walls.”

Only one of the ten texts attributed to Bodhidharma is presently considered authentic. <Broughton, p. 4> The lack of robust historical evidence concerning Bodhidharma, paradoxically, is offset by countless legends about this sage. Legends come in two varieties — the orthodox Chinese version, and the far more fanciful Japanese version. Both versions are considered largely apocryphal, containing layer upon layer of embellishments and legendary accretions spanning many centuries. Modern scholars and art historians are trying to discern the underlying historical figure by stripping away the ideological, idealising, & idolizing accretions <Sources.

                                                         I was thinking it would be lovely to see a Daruma image created in stone. Well, low and behold, I saw this museum image.  Hope you enjoyed the viewing of Matryoshka and Daruma dolls here as much I did googling to discover this great find. It started with India, then China and Japan and ultimately Russia. Thank you. Do come back sometime soon!


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