However, Hotei is also seen as a one of the Shichi Fukujin, the seven
Japanese Shinto-gods of luck. Hotei is not limited just to Japan though, he
is found among many Chinese Buddhists. Many Chinese temples will have Hotei
located at the entrance of the temple or seen in the courts and he is
worshipped as a god of good luck and prosperity. One such image is located
by the Hsi Lai temple.
The image of Hotei is sometimes seen carrying a cloth or linen sack. It is
usually filled with many precious items, including candy for children, food,
or the woes of the world. Sometimes it can be filled with children who are
seen as precious items of this world. In some scenes he may be found sitting
on a cart drawn by boys.
The large, fat belly is a symbol of happiness, luck, and generosity.
The name Hotei actually means "cloth bag" or "glutton." A legend has it that
if a person is to rub his belly, it brings forth wealth, good luck, and
Another item that may be seen with the Hotei figure, is a begging bowl. This
represents his Buddhist nature. All of these images display Hotei as a
wandering monk who goes around and takes sadness away from the people of
this world. He most certainly is a loving and cheerful character.
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