Hōtei Pointing to the Moon

Attributed to Shinno Noami

Not on view

"Big Belly" or "Cloth Bag" Budai, known as Hōtei in Japan, was a tenth-century monk who wandered around Siming (modern Ningbo) in China with his walking staff, begging for alms to place in his sack. Eccentric and given to puzzling pronouncements, he was thought to be an earthly incarnation of Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future. Hōtei was a favorite subject in Zen ink painting. Easily recognizable, he personified the pure nature and intuitive experience necessary for enlightenment. Hōtei points at the cloud to teach us that truth cannot be rationally taught. A mere handful of dynamic ink lines describes Hōtei's robed body. The finer gray lines and wash are used for his face, hands, and foot, in accordance with tradition of Zen figure painting.

Hōtei Pointing to the Moon, Attributed to Shinno Noami (1397–1471), Hanging scroll; ink on paper, Japan

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.