Vintage Japanese Wood Daruma | Japanese Zen Boddhidarma | 20th Century

This wonderful folk art study of a solid wood carved Daruma architectural element was, in fact, was part of a bracket that supports a beam in traditional Japanese architecture, (religious and ancestral homes). It has been suggested, that the slot on the back of the piece shows that it originally was part of a structure and most likely an architectural element in an entrance/door frame.

The piece is from the Meiji period, early 20th century. Daruma’s expressive face with piercing eyes is beautifully rendered in great depth and detail. The carving suggests Daruma is wearing his traditional hooded robe. The piece was carved from a solid piece of heavily grained hardwood, and it has acquired a most pleasing patina with age. Daruma, the monk who brought Zen Buddhism to Japan, has become a familiar and beloved figure with an important place in religion, art, and folk culture. In Japanese folklore, he is widely seen as a symbol of good fortune and success through perseverance. This work epitomizes both the creative energy and the conceptual richness inherent in Japanese folk sculpture. Condition is great for its age with craftsmen’s tool imperfections form the rough carving, and one spot where a knot/plug is evident. None of which detracts from the piece for these architectural pieces were not made to be perfect carvings, and only conveyors of an aesthetic. Dimensions: 4-1/2”w x 4-1/2”d x 8-0” high.

Historical Information —

According to legend, Bodhidharma left India for China and eventually traveled on to Japan. A version, propagated by the Tendai school, associates Bodhidharma with Shootoku Taishi, who himself came to be considered an avatar of the Tiantai master Nanyue Huisi (517-77). We are told that one day Shootoku Taishi met a starving beggar at the foot of Mt. Kataoka, (in Nara Prefecture), and exchanged a poem with him. The strange literate beggar was first identified as an immortal in the Nihon Shoki. When the two first met on Mt. Tiantai, Bodhidharma predicted that they would both meet again in a next life in Japan. This legend grew with the cult of Shootoku Taishi in the medieval period, and there is still a Daruma Temple at Kataoka, not far from Horyuuji — a monastery associated with Shootoku Taishi.

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