Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

12. Who is the Fat Buddha Figure?

Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

Paulina Kolata [+-]
University of Chester
Dr. Paulina Kolata is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Lund University, Sweden, and an Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, UK. Her work focuses primarily on contemporary Japanese Buddhism, depopulation, economy, death, social networks, belonging, and materiality in Buddhism.


Surprising as it may be, the fat Buddha is not a more rotund version of Gautama Buddha himself, although he has earned his nickname because of this misconception, and hence his name is often capitalized. The “fat Buddha” figure, also known as the “laughing Buddha,” represents a semi-historical, popular, non-canonical figure, derived from Chinese folklore, who became incorporated into the Chan (Zen in Japan) Buddhist tradition. Known as Budai in China, Hōtei in Japan, and Podae in Korea, the “fat Buddha” appeared in Chinese iconography during the Song dynasty (960–1279) and was allegedly modeled on Qici (–916), an eccentric Chinese Buddhist monk from the Chan tradition who lived around the tenth century during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–60) in the Wuyue kingdom.

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Kolata, Paulina. 12. Who is the Fat Buddha Figure?. Buddhism in Five Minutes. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 60-62 Nov 2021. ISBN 9781800500907. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=40749. Date accessed: 23 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.40749. Nov 2021

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