A SMALL GOD OF THE EARTH ATTAINS BUDDHAHOOD
I have had this statue for awhile, and intend to pay it more attention. He might be a small god. or he might be a human priest or shaman, acting as guardian of a sacred place. I imagine it as including a waterfall and springs, with rocks and earth and trees. Either way he would be eligible to become, or realise that he latently is, a Buddha or Taoist Immortal, to use another framework from his culture of origin.
There are even rumours of his being Maitreya, the next world saviour, on account of his laughing, ecstatic demeanour. For me, this works best in a model where we could all be prompted into saving the world together. I’m not sure how best to name and describe him – what words to use, or references to make. So I took this picture instead.
I believe it is Hotei, the Japanese Buddha of contentment. A refreshing change from the many ascetic looking Buddhas that abound.
Thanks for your comment and information. The link was very helpful. I’m glad to know that my sense of a Chinese derivation wasn’t exactly wrong, but I didn’t know anything about this strong Japanese development.