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 Siming, in southern China, carrying his few belongings in a patched cloth bag.
Hotei was probably first portrayed in painting soon after his death and later entered the folklore of China and Japan as one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune (Shichi fukujin). In his ink paintings of august East Asian mythological and historical personages, Ogata Kōrin often portrayed the seven gods in a more playful aspect, as seen here.
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Artist:Ogata Kōrin (Japanese, 1658–1716)
Period:Edo period (1615–1868)
Medium:Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Dimensions:Image: 11 1/4 × 14 1/2 in. (28.5 × 36.8 cm) Overall with mounting: 41 3/4 × 19 9/16 in. (106 × 49.7 cm) Overall with knobs: 41 3/4 in. × 21 5/8 in. (106 × 54.9 cm)
Credit Line:Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015
Believed to be an avatar of Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future, Hotei (Ch: Budai) is one of the most beloved characters of Zen Buddhism. Potbellied and bald, this cheerful, blissful man roamed the countryside in the late ninth-early tenth century in the area of Mount Si-ming, in southern China, carrying his few belongings in a patched cloth bag. Hotei was probably portrayed in painting soon after his death, and later entered the folklore of China and Japan as one of the Shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Good Fortune). Beginning in the Muromachi period, the deity was depicted by innumerable artists, regardless of their religious inclination.
Kōrin's paintings of Chinese mythological and historical personages usually differ from conventional interpretations in that he often transforms them into humorous characters. He made many ink drawings of Hotei in unorthodox poses—bouncing on his bag while kicking a ball skyward or riding a wild horse, for example, activities that perhaps express his divesting himself of worldly attachments. Here, Hotei is shown leaning against the bag, his constant companion. Merging with Hotei, it can easily be mistaken for the deity's potbelly. Grinning, Hotei seems amused by this cunning deception of the unsuspecting viewer. The bag, drawn in light ink, contrasts with the four patches of pitch-black ink that denote Hotei's two sleeves and the tip and base of the pole on which he carries his bag. Kōrin here loaded the brush with dark ink and, turning it on its side to form two broad strokes, "wrote" the sleeves.
The square "Dōsu" seal is impressed below Kōrin's signature. Adopted in 1704, the name can be used to date the drawing to the last dozen years of his life.
[Miyeko Murase 2000, Bridge of Dreams]
 Chapin 1933, pp. 47–52.  Murashige Yasushi 1991, figs. 157–62.  Tanaka Ichimatsu 1961b, p. 27.
Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation , New York (until 2015; donated to MMA)
Tokyo National Museum. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," May 21, 1985–June 30, 1985.
Tsuji Nobuo 辻惟雄, Mary Griggs Burke, Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha 日本経済新聞社, and Gifu-ken Bijutsukan 岐阜県美術館. Nyūyōku Bāku korekushon-ten: Nihon no bi sanzennen no kagayaki ニューヨーク・バーク・コレクション展 : 日本の美三千年の輝き(Enduring legacy of Japanese art: The Mary Griggs Burke collection). Exh. cat. [Tokyo]: Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha, 2005, cat. no. 92.
Carpenter, John T. Designing Nature: The Rinpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012, p. 94, cat. no. 26.
Murase, Miyeko, Il Kim, Shi-yee Liu, Gratia Williams Nakahashi, Stephanie Wada, Soyoung Lee, and David Sensabaugh. Art Through a Lifetime: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection. Vol. 1, Japanese Paintings, Printed Works, Calligraphy. [New York]: Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, , p. 154, cat. no. 182.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.