Budai Buddhism


Budai (布袋 in Chinese) or Hotei (布袋 in Japanese), Bố Đại (in Vietnamese), also known by the nickname "Laughing Buddha," is a major figure in popular tradition in Asia, particularly in Buddhism, Taoism, and Shintoism. He usually represents generosity, fortune and abundance.

His name literally means "hemp bag" or "cloth bag". He was originally a Chinese Chan monk, born in Fenghua in Zhejiang during the later Liang dynasty (10th century). He is considered, according to the Mahāyāna Buddhist school, an incarnation of Maitreya, the future Buddha. He died in 916.

Adopted by Taoism, he is accepted in this tradition as a god of contentment and abundance.

During his passage to Japan, he became part of the Shinto pantheon, and is part of the Seven Divinities of Happiness.


Budai is usually depicted with a smiling, laughing face, with his large belly in the air, bald, very long-lobed ears (a sign of high spirituality) and carrying a hemp bag (Budai in Chinese, from which he got his name) and a stick.

The stomach was considered in Chinese mythology as the seat of the soul, and Budai's large belly can be seen as an allegory of his large heart.

Legend has it that he would put broken wooden toys that children entrusted to him into his bag and bring them back repaired. This is why he can often be seen with children around him.

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