Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
Spring 2008, vol 6 no 1



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Nantembo (1839-1925)
Yuki Daruma

Ink on paper
120 x 59 cm

A Daruma made of piled-up snow. As the days pass by, Where has he gone? - No traces of him remain.

Daruma's legs, according to the legend, withered away during his nine years of meditation. The snowman, since he has no legs, has been called Snow Daruma in Japan. Depicting this subject, Nantemb˘ created one more variant of the Daruma theme. On his representations of the Snow Daruma Nantemb˘ usually added the poem by Tesshű Yama-oka (1815-1901). There are several meanings to be found in this poem: Tesshű and Nantemb˘ may have been referring to their concern that the true spirit of Daruma was disappearing in Japan, due to laxity in the training of monks. On the other hand, the vanishing forms and traces may also refer to the state of nirvana, which Daruma achieved by becoming enlightened to his own Buddha nature. (Addiss 1989, 195).


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