Edo period (1615–1868)
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Image: 11 1/4 x 14 1/2 in. (28.5 x 36.9 cm)
Overall with mounting: 43 x 20 11/16 in. (109.2 x 52.5 cm)
Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation
Not on view
Hotei (Chinese: Budai) is one of the most beloved characters of Zen Buddhism and is believed to be an avatar of Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future. Potbellied with a shaven head, this cheerful, blissful monk is said to have roamed the countryside in the late ninth to early tenth century in the area of Mount Si-ming, in southern China, carrying his few belongings in a patched cloth bag. Hotei was first portrayed in painting probably soon after his death, and later entered the folklore of China and Japan as one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune (Shichifukujin). In his ink paintings of august East Asian mythological and historical personages, Kŏrin often portrayed the seven gods in a more playful aspect, as seen here. The square “Dŏsu” seal is impressed below Kŏrin’s signature. Adopted in 1704, the name can be used to date the drawing to the last dozen years of the artist’s life.