University Museums

Title: Hotei Figure
Name: Hotei Figure
Date: Early 20th century
Period: Edo
Medium: Ivory
Country/Culture: Japanese
Dimensions: 2 x 1 9/16 x 1 3/16 in. (5.1 x 4 x 3 cm)
Marks: SKO CHO
Classification: Decorative Arts, Natural Substances
Credit Line: Gift of the Robert A. Wright Estate. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: UM85.231
More Information
God of happiness, laughter and contentment, Hotei is also known as the Happy or Laughing Buddha. Hotei is one of Japan's seven lucky gods, or Shichi Fukujin, and derives from the Liang Dynasty in China, 502-557 AD. Hotei is theorized to have begun as an actual Buddhist monk in China over 1,000 years ago. He is commonly depicted carrying a cloth bag that never empties and from which he shares his good fortune with others. The fan that he is often seen with is a Chinese uchwia and serves as a symbol of wish granting. His pot belly is symbolic of happiness, luck and generosity.