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God of Happiness - Hotei and five boys of Happiness "Karako" Japan, XIX - XX century, author unknown
Japan, the Meiji period (1868-1912), bronze;

Hotei - one of the most popular deities in Japanese mythology in the Edo period (1602-1868). He is one of "Seven Gods of Good Fortune." Dating back to the image of the Chinese Buddhist deity Budai (Pu-Tai). According to Chinese legend, Buddha of the Future, Maitreya incarnated in earthly life in the body of an ugly, small monk, who showed contempt for mundane world with his naked belly. Budai's predictions were exclusively benevolent. But before he died he said: "People you do not know me! I am Maitreya Buddha! ". He is often called "bellied Maitreya." Hence, the iconography of Hotei-Budai: a fat man with a big belly open. In Japan, he is depicted with a "bag of happiness." In this case, Hotei is lying on a "bag of happiness." The boys are very popular in the later mythology, they are symbolic wishes of male offspring and prosperity in the family.
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