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What is The Laughing Buddha

The Laughing Buddha, also known as Hotei in Japan and Pu-Tai in China, symbolizes health, happiness, longevity, and prosperity.  For more than 2,500 years, people who meditated with the Buddha (the enlightened one) have been looking for the true source of happiness and nature.  Buddha was founded by Siddhartha Gautama.  Legend tells us that a soothsayer predicted Siddhartha’s birth, claiming that one-day he would become a world leader and teacher.

When Siddhartha was born, his father King Suddhodana raised him in the lap of luxury.  However, when Siddhartha turned 29, he renounced that he was going to search for the solution to issues with human suffering and death.  For six years, he remained spiritually disciplined and at age 35 underwent a supreme enlightening while meditating at Bodh Gaya under a Pipal tree.  For the rest of his life, he stayed dedicated to teaching his doctrine while establishing a strong community consisting of monks called Sangha who would go on to do his work.

As mentioned, Hotei or Pu-Tai is the name used to describe the obese Laughing Buddha.  In China, this Buddha is called the “Friendly One” or “Loving One”.  Throughout restaurants, amulets, and temples, the Buddha is proudly on display.  For the people of China, the Laughing Buddha is a deity of abundance and contentment.  The history of the Laughing Buddha began from a number of religions such as Buddhist, Shinto, and Taoist, which dates back to the Liang Dynasty.

Historians believe that Hotei actually started as a real Buddhist monk more than 1,000 years ago who was considered to be of upstanding character, a good and loving man.  Then, the theory goes on to say that the Buddha had a benevolent nature and that he was eventually reincarnated as the bodhisattva, which would become Maitreya.  However, this claim was merely figurative and because of Buddha’s large stomach and broad smile, he would actually be caricatured as the Laughing Buddha.

As you look around both Japan and China, you will see the Laughing Buddha carrying a cloth sack filled with great treasures such as rice plants that represent wealth, food, candy for children, considered the world’s woes.  The duty of the Laughing Buddha is to be a strong support to children, as well as people who are weak and poor.  In fact, sometimes the Laughing Buddha carries an Oogi (fan), which some say is a wishing fan that was at one time used by aristocracy to tell vassals their request would be granted.

Another common scene with Hotei is a begging bowl, which is representative of the Buddha’s nature.  With this, you envision a monk who travels about bringing joy to people’s lives.  The Laughing Buddha is most often depicted as a laughing bald man in robes but with a large exposed belly.  Regardless of how he is seen, he is symbolic of good luck, happiness, and prosperity.  For this reason, people around the world will have a Laughing Buddha in the home, office, or even car.


top pick Laughing Buddha: Feng Shui Booth

Happy Wealth Giving Buddha
This Happy Wealth Giving Buddha is a symbol of having a rich and rewarding life. He is standing on a big bag of money and hanging over his stick is huge gold coins. A classic Buddha statue done in Bronze and polished by hand. He is symbol of HAPPINESS, GOOD TIDINGS, AFFLUENCE and of course, ENDLESS WEALTH.

Traveling Buddha
Jolly Buddha walking with belongings in pack on a stick. Made from Hong Kong Ivory (a legal synthetic ivory), he is exquisitely detailed and painted by hand. And signed by the artish. This item measures approximately 4.75" tall X 3" wide.

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