ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hotei - The Laughing Buddha

Updated on January 6, 2011

The Laughing Buddha or the smiling Buddha is a stout smiling bald man carrying a sack. He is dressed in long loose robes with a nice round pot belly exposed. This is the celestial Buddha named Hotei or Pu-Tai whom we best know as the Laughing Buddha. In China, the laughing Buddha is known as the Loving or Friendly One.

The legend of the laughing Buddha dates back to a wandering Chinese Zen monk who lived over 1,000 years ago. He became a significant part of the Buddhist and Shinto culture due to his benevolent nature. He was regarded as an incarnation of the Bodhisattva who will be Maitreya or the Future Buddha. His large protruding belly and jolly smile got him the nickname "Laughing Buddha." ‘Budai’ in Chinese and ‘Budai Luohan’ in Japanese,  this pot bellied bald figure with a smiling face is linked to a nomadic ‘Chan’ monk who lived in the time of Liang Dynasty in China.

The monk dressed himself in a cloth-bag that is known as ‘pu-tai’ in Chinese and ‘Hotei’ in Japanese. Hence the local folks called him ‘Pu-tai Hoshang’ or ‘hemp-bag monk’.

Legends say that the monk carried delightful gifts for children in his linen sack.
Most Buddhist shrines grace the statue of ‘Budai’ in the entranceway. With an impish grin and a protruded tummy the robust monk is found in various poses. Sometimes he is seated on an elaborately inlaid pedestal or at times on a a cart drawn by children. At times he is seen waving a hand –fan also known as the ‘ogi’.

The ogi or hand fan is a symbol of aristocracy and is believed to fulfill the wishes of those who carried hand held fans.

‘Budai’ statues with small children at his feet represent Hotei’s fondness and love for the children.

The Pu tai or Hotei is found at the entrances of many temples and restaurants as well as on amulets. He symbolizes contentment and abundance. The image of Hotei is almost always seen carrying a cloth or linen sack that is always full. It is filled with items that include rice plants, candy for children, food, etc. He is the patron saint of the weak, poor and of course, children. Hotei was himself a great Zen master. This jolly saint wandered from place to place and in every town, people assembled at the Town Square and gathered around him. His funny looks and large hearted smile attracted large crowds

He distributed sweets and small toys to all children who gathered around him. Then, he would keep his bag down, look up at the sky and would just start laughing. He used to laugh insanely irrespective of if others around him laughed or not. Soon,  his infectious laughter got  contagious and all those who had gathered around him forgot their worldly sorrows and started laughing along with him. When the entire town was in splits, Hotei would slowly pick up his bag and leave for the next town.

He thus spread joy as he visited each town.  This century old figure of the Buddhist religion has now intermingled with the Chinese ideals of life and happiness which has transformed completely from the previous Buddhist ideals and values. Today,  happiness has become tantamount to material affluence and  riches. Hence, our modern laughing Buddha is  revered as a god of material plentitude and good fortune in life

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Brad2001 profile image

      Bradley Kaye 

      5 years ago from Lewiston, New York

      I have a statue of the laughing Buddha in my office at work! I found this hub to be really informative, thanks for posting this! To me, it is the most recognizable image of the Buddha in the eyes of most Westerners.

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      Great info of the Laughing Buddha, yeap his statue can be found in almost every Chinese Buddhist temple and restaurants. Some people even have one at their home to symbolize as abundance and joy. (:

    • justom profile image

      justom 

      7 years ago from 41042

      Looking at what I typed yesterday I could use a lesson in spelling :-D! Peace!! Tom

    • Mayaanjali profile imageAUTHOR

      Mayaanjali 

      7 years ago

      I liked the American spelling !

    • justom profile image

      justom 

      7 years ago from 41042

      Great informative hub. I always likes that laughing Baddha (for some reason I think we spell that different here in the U.S.) Thanks for the lesson, nice work. Peace!! Tom

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)