Hotei is the god of contentment and happiness, and is another member of Japan’s “Seven Gods of Good Fortune.” He has a cheerful face and a big belly that bulges out of his monk’s robes. Hotei carries a large cloth bag of riches that never empties in order to provide for the less fortunate. The Japanese characters for "ho tei" literally mean "cloth bag." Here he is depicted sitting next to his bag. He also holds a Chinese fan. It is sometimes called a “wish-giving” fan because tradition holds that ancient aristocrats used the fan to indicate to underlings that their requests would be granted.

Hotei is based on an eccentric Chinese Zen beggar priest, said to be an incarnation of the Bodhisattva Miroku.

This garment is called a yogi, a sleeping blanket. Japanese yogi were used as covers to sleep in during the cold winter months. Traditionally, these were kept for use by important guests. Presenting a guest with a beautiful yogi to sleep in was a sign of respect. Yogi are seldom used in modern Japan. Vintage yogi, like this one, are increasingly hard to find.

Copyright 2006 Jeffrey Krauss and Ann Marie Moeller