Item: Painting on wooden boardOrigin: JapanDate: Edo Period; dated: 1867, February 10Materials: Color on woodSize: H: 15 6/8 in; W: 11 7/8 in
Depiction of Hotei and child. - Inscription: Offering - Inscription on the back: (=1867, February 10th). Hotei: A semi-legendary, itinerant 10th century Buddhist monk who became a popular subject in Chinese and Japanese painting. His biography is found in the 908 "Legends of High Priests of the Song Dynasty." He lived on Mt. Siming in Mingzhou, where he frequently strolled through a nearby town carrying his large cloth bag. Thus he earned his affectionate nickname, "Priest Budai" Budai's air of "enlightened innocence" led him, to be admired as an exemplar of Zen values. Although originally he was said to have filled his bag with anything he encountered on his wanderings, later Zen interpretations speak of Budai's "empty bag." Ironically, in Japanese popular culture Budai's bulging bag and contented appearance led to his inclusion in the Seven Gods of Good Fortune. Budai was also thought to have been an incarnation of Maitreya. - In painting Budai is shown with sparse hair, a smiling face, a large bare belly, loose garments and carrying a bag and wooden staff. In later paintings he is shown in a variety of poses, usually seated or sleeping on his bag, but also dancing, walking or pointing upwards at the moon. In Edo period painting Budai is frequently pictured together with groups of playing children.
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