Thursday, 23 January 2014

Fat Figure NOT the Buddha

While watching the BBC program about Stephen Gough, "The Naked Rambler", his mother mentioned that his older brother was a Buddhist.

When I tried Googling to verify this I kept coming up with hits about the statues of two naked fat "Buddhas" climbing a building in Jinan, Shandong province, China.

Report after report kept refering to the figures as Buddhas.................................


The so called fat Buddha is NOT Siddhārtha Gautama, the historical Buddha. Instead The Fat Buddha is thought to be based on another historical figure, a Chinese Zen Buddhist monk named Qieci who lived over 1,000 years ago during the later Liang Dynasty. In China he became known as Budai, meaning cloth bag, named after the sack full of sweets for children that he always carried. In Japanese this is translated as Hotei. He was a benevolent man who dedicated his life to helping others, and is portrayed as a fat, bald man in monks clothing, with a large exposed belly, and either wearing or holding a necklace of beads. This necklace is a Mala, a Buddhist string of prayer beads.

He is usually identified with (or as an incarnation of) Maitreya, the future Buddha to come, so much so that the Budai image is one of the main forms in which Maitreya is depicted in East Asia.

Fat Buddha statues are popular as a symbol of health, happiness, prosperity and good fortune.

These statues take a number of forms, and can convey different meanings depending on the symbolic meaning of the various objects he is holding.

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