Laughing Buddha: Images and Figurines
The image of Hotei is almost always seen carrying a cloth or linen sack, which never empties, and is filled with many precious items, including rice plants (indicating wealth), sweets for children, food, and the woes of the world. Sometimes it can be filled with children, as they are seen as some of those precious items of this world. His duty is patron of the weak, poor and children. In some scenes he may be found sitting on a cart drawn by boys, or wielding a fan called an oogi (said to be a "wish giving" fan -- in the distant past, this type of fan was used by the aristocracy to indicate to vassals that their requests would be granted).
The statue depicts a stout, smiling or laughing bald man in robes with a largely exposed pot belly stomach symbolic for happiness, good luck, and plenitude. The stomach is also considered the seat of the soul in Chinese mythology and so the large stomach can be taken as an allegory for Hotei's Open Heartedness. Some sculptures have small children at his feet. Another item that is usually seen with the Hotei figure, is a begging bowl; to represent his Buddhist nature. All of these images display Hotei as a wandering monk who goes around and takes the sadness from people of this world. He most certainly is a loving and cheerful character, strikingly similar to Santa Claus in the West, and is a common statuette found in homes and businesses in China and Japan.
Recently, Hotei statues, statuettes and amulets have become relatively well-known in Western cultures. Misconceptions have arisen because of this new enthusiasm, including the false connection made between the Laughing Buddha and Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
Hotei,Bu-Dai,Laughing Buddha, Prosperity Buddha, Abundance Buddha
The Laughing Buddha
Hotei or Bu-Dai is better known in the English-speaking world as the obese Laughing Buddha. In China, he is dubbed the Loving or Friendly One. He has become incorporated into Buddhist & Shinto culture and is based on an eccentric Chinese Chan monk. His image graces many temples, restaurants, and...feng shui deity full article >>>
Laughing Buddha: Imagery
The image of Hotei is almost always seen carrying a cloth or linen sack, which never empties, and is filled with many precious items, including rice plants (indicating wealth), sweets for children, food, and the woes of the world. Sometimes it can be filled with children, as they are seen as some of...feng shui deity full article >>>
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Hotei, the Laughing Buddha