Meiji Period carved ivory Sagemono. Daruma.c. 1890.


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Meiji Period late nineteenth century ivory sagemono. Daruma.

The story of Daruma is based on the life of Bodhidhama, a Buddhist Monk who lived in the fifth or sixth century. Legend has it that refused entry to a Shaolin Monastery, Bodhidhama moved into a nearby cave where he “faced a wall for nine years, not speaking for the entire time” During this period of meditation, it is said that the Monk once fell asleep. Angry with himself, he cut off his eyelids to avoid it happening again and where they fell, the first tea plants grew. As time went by, Bodhidhama’s arms and legs atrophied, which is why Daruma is always represented as a round figure with no arms or legs. Our Daruma is of carved ivory, a sagemono produced in Japan in the late nineteenth century. The size of this item suggests that it may have been made for a child. It is suspended on horse hair and has the original ojime, also ivory but dyed green to give the appearance of jade, The opening of the sagemono is at the base, where it is signed in a red lacquer reserve, a small part of which is missing.

This charming and rare sagemono showing Daruma stands 4.5cm high, is 4cm wide and 3.3cm deep. (Measurements approximate). Aside from the mentioned minor loss to the lacquer reserve, it is in excellent condition, showing light wear appropriate to its age and function. It has no damage and no restoration.