Author Topic: Laughing Buddha  (Read 30881 times)

Jessie Fong

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Laughing Buddha
« on: August 03, 2012, 01:06:24 PM »

Ever wondered who is the Laughing Buddha and what are the meanings of the objects that he has?
Read also about the many different forms of Happy Buddha.

Extracted from :

The Laughing Buddha

The celestial Buddha named Hotei or Pu-Tai is best known as the jolly Laughing Buddha. In China, he is known as the Loving or Friendly One. He is based on an eccentric Chinese Ch'an (Zen) monk who lived
over 1,000 years ago and has become a significant part of Buddhist and Shinto culture. Because of this monk's benevolent nature, he came to be regarded as an incarnation of the bodhisattva who will be Maitreya (the Future Buddha). His large protruding stomach and jolly smile have given him the common designation "Laughing Buddha."

The Laughing Buddha's image graces many temples, restaurants, and amulets, as he has become a deity of contentment and abundance. The image of Hotei is almost always seen carrying a cloth or linen sack (that
which never empties) which is filled with many precious items, including rice plants (indicating wealth), candy for children, food, or the woes of the world. He is patron of the weak, poor and children.

Laughing Buddha statues depict a stout, smiling or laughing bald man in robes with a largely exposed
pot belly stomach, which symbolizes happiness, good luck, and plenitude. Some sculpture has small children at his feet. Another item that is usually seen with the Laughing Buddha figure is a begging bowl to represent his Buddhist nature.

In some scenes the Laughing Buddha 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). All of these images display Hotei as a wandering monk who goes around and takes the sadness from people of this world.

According to legend, if one rubs the Laughing Buddha's great belly, it brings forth wealth, good luck, and
prosperity. Hotei is also referred to as the patron saint of restaurateurs, fortunetellers and bartenders. When one overeats or over drinks, friends jokingly attribute it to the Laughing Buddha's influence.


The meaning of sculptures depicting Buddha holding a bowl points to an essential part of a monk’s life -
it is a begging bowl and represents the idea that monks live off what is given or donated by others. There is also a story associated with Buddha and the begging bowl. It is said that as Buddha came close to reaching
enlightenment and young woman gave him a bowl of milk rice, however at this time Buddha was fasting.
Realizing that his fasting had weakened his body and he would require more nourishment in order to attain
enlightenment he accepted. Having reached enlightenment he discarded the little remaining contents of the bowl symbolizing his detachment form material possessions. The link between the renunciation of material
possessions and reaching enlightenment plays a prominent part in Buddhist philosophy.

A laughing Hotei Buddha with a fan is a symbol of happiness and joy. Some scenes the Laughing
Buddha 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).   

Sack or bag
Sculptures of Buddha with a sack usually depicts Hotei Buddha. Hotei, meaning ‘cotton sack’ is the
representation of the travelling Buddha. It is said that he wanders the world collecting people’s sadness and woes and putting them in his sack. The sack is also said to represent wealth and good fortune.

The beads, known as a ‘mala,’ represent never-ending meditation practice, even when engaged in
worldly activities.

The ball has various meanings, the more popular one is that the ball is a wealth ball which brings wealth and prosperity. Other meanings include medicine balls, pearls of wisdom, and a peach or apricot representing health and prosperity

Happy Hotei's come in many forms:

Safe Travels Buddha
The Safe Travels Buddha is an old-fashioned rendition. He either carries a stick with a bundle tied to the end of it or he has a sack thrown over one shoulder. Both variations include him holding a wealth ball in his other hand.
Long Life Buddha
The Long Life Buddha is seated and has a bag of blessings by his side or holds the bag in his lap. In one hand, he cradles a wealth ball raised in front of him and a Ru-Yi pot in his other hand.

Spiritual Journey Buddha
The Spiritual Journey Buddha has quite a few symbols to study. Typically, he carries a gourd of enlightenment suspended from a stick while holding a fan in his other hand. He wears a necklace made of prayer beads.

Happy Home Buddha
The Happy Home Buddha is seated and holds a parasol over his shoulder, protruding behind his back.

Love Buddha
Combinations of symbols create a seated Love Buddha holding a wealth ball in one hand with a bag slung over his shoulder.

Earth Buddha
Also known as, Calling Earth to Witness, the Earth Buddha sits on the ground with his right hand extended so his fingers point to the earth beneath him. This statue honors the time when Buddha was repeatedly tempted by the demon, Mara, but resisted and reached enlightenment.

Reclining Buddha
Buddha awaits his transition from this life to death, which he viewed as a mere journey of transition into a
different state of being.

Wealthy Brass Laughing Buddha Sitting On Dragon Chair
Depicted in an ever smiling face, holding a gold ingot in his left hand and a sack of wealth in his right, sitting
on a Dragon Chair with the Chinese character for "Good Fortune and Luck" on the back with the auspicious
gold coins scattered underneath, the Laughing Buddha on Dragon Chair for Good Fortune is a must for those wishing for riches and abundance

Buddha on Coins/Bag
Buddha standing or sitting on a pile of coins or his bag is protector of wealth.


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Re: Laughing Buddha
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2012, 06:47:18 AM »
The Laughing Buddha feng shui symbol is based on the story of a Buddhist monk who lived in the 10th century China. He was a bit too eccentric for a monk, but his heart was loving and open, and in time he came to be loved by many. He is considered a reincarnation of Gautama Buddha (the historical Buddha) and added the often missing energy of light heartedness, joy and laughter to everyday life.

Also called the Happy, Hotei or Traveling Buddha, the Laughing Buddha is often depicted with gold ingots, a Wu Lou (Chinese gourd), a sack of treasures or surrounded by children. And, of course, a big belly!

The most common feng shui use of the Laughing Buddha is as a cure for wealth and good luck. The symbol of Laughing Buddha is considered to bring auspicious energy, wealth and joyful blessings anywhere it is placed, so now you know why you can see at least one Laughing buddha in Chinese restaurants, for example.

Tenzin K

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Re: Laughing Buddha
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2012, 12:17:51 PM »
Traditions that revere Budai

Budai in folklore is admired for his happiness, plenitude, and wisdom of contentment. One belief popular in folklore maintains that rubbing his belly brings wealth, good luck, and prosperity.
In Japan, Hotei persists in folklore as one of the Seven Lucky Gods (Shichi Fukujin) of Taoism.

Some Buddhist traditions consider him a Buddha or a bodhisattva, often identifying him with Maitreya (the future Buddha).
His identification with the Maitreya is attributed to a Buddhist hymn he uttered before his death:
Maitreya, the true Maitreya
has billions of incarnations.
Often he is shown to people at the time;
other times they do not recognize him.

The primary story that concerns Budai in Zen (Chán) is a short k?an. In it, Budai is said to travel giving candy to poor children, only asking a penny from Zen monks or lay practitioners he meets. One day a monk walks up to him and asks, "What is the meaning of Zen?" Budai drops his bag. "How does one realize Zen?" he continues. Budai then takes up his bag and continues on his way.

I Kuan Tao
Statues of Budai form a central part of I Kuan Tao shrines, where he is usually referred to by the Sanskrit name Maitreya. According to I Kuan Tao, he represents many teachings, including contentment, generosity, wisdom and open kindheartedness. He is predicted to succeed Gautama Buddha as the next Buddha, and helps people realize the essence within, which connects with all beings.

Conflation with other religious figures

Angida Arhat
Angida was one of the original eighteen Arhats of Buddhism. According to legend, Angida was a talented Indian snake catcher whose aim was to catch venomous snakes to prevent them from biting passers-by. Angida would also remove the snake's venomous fangs and release them. Due to his kindness, he was able to attain bodhi.
In Chinese art, Angida is sometimes portrayed as Budai, being rotund, laughing, and carrying a bag. In Nepali, he is also called hasne buddha ("laughing Buddha").

Phra Sangkajai / Phra Sangkachai
In Thailand, Budai is sometimes confused with another similar monk widely respected in Thailand, Phra Sangkajai or Sangkachai. Phra Sangkajai, a Thai spelling of Mahakaccayanathera, was a Buddhist Arhat (in Sanskrit) or Arahant (in Pali) during the time of the Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha praised Phra Sangkadchai for his excellence in explaining sophisticated dharma (or dhamma) in an easily and correctly understandable manner. Phra Sangkajai also composed the Madhupinadika Sutra.
One tale relates that he was so handsome that once even a man wanted him for a wife. To avoid a similar situation, Phra Sangkadchai decided to transform himself into a fat monk. Another tale says he was so attractive that angels and men often compared him with the Buddha. He considered this inappropriate, so disguised himself in an unpleasantly fat body.

Although both Budai and Phra Sangkajai may be found in both Thai and Chinese temples, Phra Sangkajai is found more often in Thai temples, and Budai in Chinese temples. Two points to distinguish them from one another are:
Phra Sangkajai has a trace of hair on his head (looking similar to the Buddha's) while Budai is clearly bald.
Phra Sangkajai wears the robes in Theravadin Buddhist fashion with the robes folded across one shoulder, leaving the other uncovered. Budai wears the robes in Chinese style, covering both arms but leaving the front part of the upper body uncovered.


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Re: Laughing Buddha
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2012, 01:45:11 PM »
The Laughing Buddha or “Happy Fat Buddha” is also by a few other names – ‘Puy Lok Yak’, ‘Mi Lo Fu’, ‘Mi Le Pusa’, ‘Miroku Bosatsu’ in Japanese and ‘Phra Sry Araya Metrai’ in Thai. However the Laughing Buddha (with its other names) is in fact Maitreya Buddha who is the future Buddha, or the Buddha of the fifth cycle.

The Buddha Shakyamuni predicted that his teachings will only lasts 5000 years before disappearing altogether due to the degeneration of man, who will progressively take less interest in the Dharma.

The people in the world will become increasingly immoral, and people’s health and fortunes will wane and eventually the world will be plunged into a darkness of famines, wars and diseases.  It is then that Maitreya will appear, not initially as a Buddha but a person of regal birth.  Shakyamuni predicted that Maitreya will be remarkably handsome and much taller than ordinary beings and he will bear all the 32 marks of a supreme being.

Maitreya’s appearance will be a significant turning point in the then degenerated world and as more and more people follow his example the people of the world will regain their store of merit and will soon long life and good fortunes once again.

However, after that revival in the dharma, the morality of the people will again degenerate leading to yet another gradual shortening of life and fortunes. This will go on for some time until human beings once again pursue the spiritual path again with sincere intentions. Then Maitreya will leave Tushita Heaven and take his last rebirth.

There are many theories as to why the majestic Maitreya is depicted as a jovial pot bellied monk.

One story states that Maitreya once visited earth to share the sutras, in his extremely handsome and regal form. He discovered that his good looks were a distraction to his followers and they were unable to take in the teachings and so he decided to manifest in the form of a happy, fat and bald monk.

Yet another explanation is that some people cannot comprehend certain aspects of the Buddha’s teachings and to relate the benefits of Maitreya’s practice to them, he decided to manifest in a form that people associate with wealth, health, happiness, abundance and joy.


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Re: Laughing Buddha
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2012, 01:53:03 PM »
Laughing Buddha emerge from the Chinese folktales of the 10th century.The original stories of the laughing Buddha centred on a monk named Qieci from Fenghua,now the province of Zhejiang.He was an accentric but much lived character who worked small wonders such as predicting the weather.
Just before he died,he revealed himself as the incarnation of Matreiya Buddha,Matreiya in the Tripitaka,as the Buddha of future age.
The tales  spread throughout China and he became known as Pu-tai,which means 'hempen sack'.He carries a sack full of good things with him such as sweets,for children and he is often pictured with children. Pu-Tai represents happiness,generosity and wealth and he is a protector of children as well as of the poor and the weak.
A statue of Pu-tai often can be found near the entrance of Chinese Buddhist temples.The tradition of rubbing his tummy for good luck is a folklore practice and not a Buddhist teaching.
He followed the spread of Buddhism into other parts of Asia and is incoperated into Chinese Taoism as a diety of abundance.

hope rainbow

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Re: Laughing Buddha
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2012, 01:35:21 AM »
Here is the laughing Buddha in the Yong He Kong complex in Beijing:


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Re: Laughing Buddha
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2012, 07:02:34 AM »
There is another form of Laughing Buddha which is mainly use for feng shui purposes. The good fortune Laughing Buddha with Five Kids symbolizes good luck in starting a wholesome family that is always filled with laughter and happiness, as well as the ability to control rebellious children in the household represented by the Ru Yi symbol of authority he's holding. He is also a sure mood lifter when looked at, no matter how down one can be and is ideal for those seeking good descendant or infant luck. He has an ever smiling face with five happy and active children clambering playfully all over him, the Laughing Buddha with Children will help couples longing for the pitter-patter of little feet to fill their homes with more joy and laughter. The Laughing Buddha loves children and is very protective of them. Having him at home will ensure that children are shielded from harm. It is said that if you are looking to have kids, place it the West sector for descendant luck.

Jessie Fong

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Re: Laughing Buddha
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2012, 09:22:49 AM »
What is the significance of different hand positions of Laughing Buddha?
by Buddha Groove on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 at 8:42am ·

The laughing Buddha statue is a symbol of happiness and contentment. The Laughing Buddha is seen in different postures, each having a different significance.
Buddha with a money bag and a gold ingot represents wealth and good fortune.

The Standing Happy Buddha brings riches and happiness.

Buddha sitting on a large gold nugget with a smaller nugget in his hand ready for giving to others. This position of the Laughing Buddha is symbolic of good luck.

Buddha sitting with his fan hat on his head represents enjoyment and good fortune.

Buddha holding a gold ingot with his hands upright signifies abundant riches and good luck.

Buddha with a fan in one hand and wu lou (bottle gourd) in the other hand brings blessings and good health. The fan wards off misfortune while the wu lou protects from illness.

Buddha carrying a bag of gold on his shoulder symbolizes prosperity.

Buddha carrying a bag of blessings on his right shoulder and a fan in his left hand protects you and keeps you safe during long journeys.

Buddha with a travel stick in his hand protects you from harm during journeys.


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Re: Laughing Buddha
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2012, 01:05:46 PM »
The laughing buddha is one of the most prominent symbols of Buddhism amongst the Chinese world as the laughing buddha is not just a Buddhist statue, it is used a lot by feng shui masters to dispel bad luck and wealth problems. I remember in a trip to Singapore, I visited a temple that had a description of the Laughing Buddha when he was in a human form. He was well-known for being jolly and carrying a sack. 


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Re: Laughing Buddha
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2012, 07:44:51 AM »
There is surely many form of a Laughing Buddha. The one mostly that I come across in homes are the Laughing Buddha carrying a walking stick that have a bag hanging on it with a big smiling face. The second one would be the one place in shop and restaurant is sitting with a gold bag as well as a big smiling face and the third one is having a lo of kids around him. They are quite popular among young people and i have also come across more and more westerner whom looks around for such beautiful statue too.

Thanks for the info.