Heavenly beings and deities

In Chinese, Budai (Jap. Hotei) literally means ‘hemp sack’, and is the name given to the figure of the laughing pot-bellied monk who carries a large sack around with him. Budai is said to have lived as a mendicant monk in tenth-century China. Always known to be jolly and contented, he never took anything for himself; instead he handed out presents from his sack to children and the poor. He is also considered to be a manifestation of Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future. It is Budai who is known as ‘the Fat Buddha’; he is widely portrayed on all manner of kitschy ornaments.