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Role: Daruma or Bodhidharma (達磨)

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Biography:

There are numerous versions of the Daruma legend. In one the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma traveled to China as a missionary.

Bernard Faure wrote: "According to the Golden Legend of Chan Bodhidharma was the son of a southern Indian king. Having obtained enlightenment, he left for China in order to convert the Chinese, and arrived in Canton at the beginning of the sixth century. His encounter with Emperor Liang Wudi 梁武帝 (r. 502-49), a ruler who prided himself on being a pious Buddhist, was a short and inauspicious one. Bodhidharma, showing what some would consider a certain lack of tactfulness, declared that the emperor's pious works were of no value whatsoever. The latter, not surprisingly, was not pleased, and Bodhidharma deemed it prudent to leave right away for North China. He is said to have crossed the Yangzi River on a reed, an element that made its way into Zen iconography. He eventually settled on Mt. Song, where he practiced meditation during nine years facing a wall."

In some accounts it says Daruma cut off his eyelids so he wouldn't fall asleep while staring at a wall for years. The tea plant is said to have sprouted from where the eyelids landed.