The Laughing Buddha
The Jolly Laughing Buddha statue is also known as Hotei or Pu-Tai. He is extremely popular In
Is now a dominant feature of Buddhist and Shinto culture. He has a very open and jolly demeanour he was regarded as an incarnation of the Maitreya bodhisattva who will be the Future Buddha. He has large protruding belly and jocular smile have and is known commonly as the "Laughing Buddha."
The Laughing Buddha's features graces many temples, restaurants, and jewellery and has come to represent a Buddha of contentment and abundance. The Laughing Buddha is nearly always seen carrying a linen sack which is always full and is full with many valuable items, such as rice plants (indicating wealth), sweets for children, food items, or the grief of the world. He is the Buddha of the weak, the poor and children.
Laughing Buddha Wooden Statues
Laughing Buddha statues are usually represented by a fat, smiling or laughing bald man in monk’s robes and has an exposed pot-bellied stomach symbolizing happiness, good luck, and good fortune. Some statues also have small children at his feet. Laughing Buddha statues often have an alm’s bowl representing his Buddhist nature.
In other depictions the Laughing Buddha may be found on a cart drawn by children , or holding a fan called an oogi. All of these features represent the Laughing Buddha as an itinerant monk who travels taking away the sadness from the people of the world.
Legend has it if you rub the Laughing Buddha's large stomach, it will produce wealth, good luck, and good fortune. The Laughing Buddha is also the patron saint of restaurateurs, clairvoyants and bartenders. When one drinks or eats too much friends blame it on the Laughing Buddha's influence.
Very Large Laughing Buddhas
The Laughing Buddha and Zen
The Laughing Buddha was travelling and handing out sweets to poor children and asking for a penny from Zen monks or the laity he met on the way. One day a monk comes up to him and enquires, "What is the meaning of Zen?" the Laughing Buddha drops his linen sack. "How does one realize Zen?" he replied. The laughing Buddha then took up his sack and went on his way.