Photo courtesy Flickr
One year, Santa left me an inflatable, weighted vinyl toy designed to be knocked over so it could right itself again. I saw a designer version in the Seattle Art Museum gift shop not long ago.
An art history instructor told us this toy was inspired by a traditional piece of Japanese folk art. It’s a paper mache model of Boddidharma, the man who brought zen buddhism from India over the mountains into China. Chinese and Japanese artists like to draw sumi cartoons that make fun of Boddidharma’s big East Indian nose and baleful eyes.
I learned that the little darumas are appliances. They are made with blank Little Orphan Annie eyes. When one gets one home, the drill is to make a wish and fill in one eye. When the wish comes true, fill in the other. Wikipedia has the details.
Now and then I bring a fresh daruma home, sometimes simply because one is irresistible. The current Naples yellow model lives in the punk-furnished Playmobil house I rent from my grown child. I use this toy to indulge my passion for arranging furniture: it’s easier to lift grams than pounds.
At the moment, the house is sitting on the dining table, and the other day I tested the daruma’s ability to right itself. Thirty-three years after buying the first one, I finally discovered the equilibrium that is inherent in the design.
-30- More after the jump.