1. Ishigami Daruma



Bodhidharma okimono
Stone embedded in a root and lacquer
Japan, Edo-Meiji period, 19th century
H.: 22 cm

Ishigami (literally “stone trapped”) is the name of an object (okimono) which consists of a root encloses a stone. During its growth, the wood has wrapped and trapped the stone. Such curiosities of nature were highly prized by Japanese scholars at the end of the Edo period and during the Meiji era. Similar objects were also sought by Chinese scholars who loved to be surrounded by curious natural forms whether stone, burl wood or root. In Japan one encounters several “images” of okimono ishigami: Buddhist, Shinto or folk deities, and animals (deer, crab, elephant, rat, monkey, etc.).

Daruma is the Japanese name of Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk from southern India, who according legend was the founder of the Chan school in China, a contemplative offshoot of the Mahayana which became the Zen school in Japan. According to the Biographies of Eminent Monks (ZXù gāosēng zhuàn), written by the Chinese Buddhist monk Dàoxuān (596-667), the Bodhidharma would have arrived in China during the Liu Song Dynasty (420-479), but in the Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall his coming is dated to the Liang dynasty (502-557). He is often depicted as a bearded, somewhat hirsute monk with big-eyes and bushy eyebrows, and a gloomy expression