Happy Buddha, or Laughing Buddha, whose Chinese name is Pu Tai, Sanskrit Maitreya
(Future Buddha), and he is lovingly called The Cloth Sack Buddha "Hotei" in Japanese.
Zen paintings often pictured the joyous Buddhist monk Hotei as an eccentric wanderer
with an empty sack, a protector of children unconcerned with material wealth.
Ironically, since Hotei is one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, his empty sack
was later made into a treasure bag, and Hotei is believed to dispense riches to
the poor and needy at will.
this wonderfully realized okimono of Hotei is represented as a Medicine Buddha.
Here he is shown carrying a treasure bag, with a cluster of reishi (Chinese: Ling-chih,
or wood ear fungus) tied to his fan. It is note worthy that the carver Ryuba has
succeeded in rendering the reishi with great charm, his meticulously artistry
in noting its smooth stems and bumpy caps captured a finesse rarely seen in a
cluster of fungus. On its main feature_the Hotei Buddha is rendered with high
spirit and striking simplicity. It leaves no doubt that Ryuba is a master of his
art, despite that he is virtually unrecorded in our library of references.