The Laughing Buddha is an Eastern Symbol of Prosperity

The Buddha most often referred to as “happy Buddha” or “laughing Buddha” is really a Chinese Zen monk who lived approximately 1000 years ago who has become a significant part of Buddhist lore. This celestial Buddha’s name was actually Hotei or Ho Tai.
hppy buddha statuesHe was known for his generosity and came to be seen as an incarnation of the bodhisattva, an enlightened being who has achieved Buddhahood. It’s believed he is a Maitreya or future Buddha who will someday return to Earth. His ample midsection and pleasant smile have given him the common name “laughing Buddha.”Laughing Buddha statuesare often seen in restaurants temples and businesses because he is the deity of contentment and prosperity.
You almost always see Ho Tai carrying a linen sack, always full with candy for children rice plants which symbolize wealth food or the suffering of the world. Much like Catholicism’s St. Nicholas, Ho Tai is the patron saint of children and the weak and the downtrodden.
A laughing Buddha statue portrays a stout, chubby bald man whose generous potbelly stomach can be seen through his loose robes. While Ho Tai could definitely benefit from a few stomach crunches, his ample belly is symbolic of good fortune and plenitude. Along with his chubby belly and happy grin the laughing Buddha nearly always carries a gnarled walking stick in one hand and his ever present sack in the other.The laughing Buddha is most often depicted in statuary in either a sitting, standing or in a reclining position. The reclining position most likely was born from the “sleeping Buddha position,” which depicted the Buddha’s last moments on earth before he ascended to Nirvana.
Most often the laughing Buddha statue is displayed in the home as a symbol and talisman of good fortune and prosperity. Many happy Buddha statues show the jolly patron holding gold ingots in his hands were sitting atop a mountain of gold coins. It’s also not unusual to see the Buddha sitting atop a Dragon throne.
The Dragon is a symbol of security and power in Asian cultures.Other accoutrements often seen in sculptures and statues of the happy Buddha include a rosary necklace symbolic of prayer, a begging bowl associated with the laughing Buddha’s lack of worldly possessions or an oogi. The oogi is a Chinese “wish giving” fan used in the past by Chinese aristocracy has an affectation to demonstrate that their wishes would be granted.In western culture, the laughing Buddha is often referred to as the “fat Buddha.” As a jolly fat man who frequently distributes candies and presents to children, Ho Tai most closely resembles what Westerners think of as Santa Claus. However, his tidings of good fortune can be enjoyed year round.It’s believed that if you rub the belly of a laughing Buddha you are sure to enjoy good luck, prosperity and wealth. Ho Tai is also considered the patron of bartenders and restaurant owners and is frequently seen displayed prominently in Asian restaurants. Overindulgence in food and drink are often credited to the influence of the laughing Buddha.


happy buddha sculpture

Buddha statue brings both beauty and meaning to the home. From the protection of a Dispelling Fear Buddha statue to the prosperity of a Laughing Buddha statue the moods and meanings are vast.

Here are some of my favorite Buddha Sculptures around the world.

Some of the most amazing awe inspiring sculptures and carvings are out of the love and respect for the Buddha, the enlightened one.  Here are a few of my favorites.  Please add your own in the comments section or tell us about your travels to each of them.


The largest Buddha statue in the world is the Spring Temple Buddha in Lushan County, Henan, China. The statue stands 128 m (420 ft), high and comes with a 20 m (66 ft) lotus throne. If the 25 m (82 ft) pedestal/building is added, the height becomes 153 m (502 ft).

You can buy your own buddha sculptures from a small shop in Nepal… directly from your computer.  Contact Nabin with questions.



The statue was finished in 2002. The construction of the statue began after the Maitreya Project commenced. The initial cost was $55 million. The statue is comprised of 1,100 pieces of copper cast.

The weight is estimated to be 1,000 tons. Part of the reason the largest Buddha statue in the world was built was due to the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.

Origin of the Name

The Spring Temple Buddha got its name from the Tianrui hot spring, where 60 C water is spewed out. The water is famous for its healing properties.

Other Giant Buddha Statues

The Great Buddha statue in Bodhgaya, Bihar is 25 m (82 ft) high and depicts the Buddha in a sitting position. It is one of the oldest and most renowned of the Buddha statues in India.

The Leshan Giant Buddha is the biggest carved stone Buddha on the planet. The Buddha is carved from the Lingyun Mountain. It is situated around the Dadu, Minjiang, and Qingyi rivers in Sichuan in China.

One of the largest Buddha statues in the world, it is 71 m (230 ft) high and 28 m (92 ft) wide between its shoulders. The head is 14.7 m (48 ft) high. A hundred people can sit at the Buddha’s head.

The Great Buddha in Thailand

This statue is 92 m (300 ft) high and 63 m (210 ft) wide. Construction began n 1990 and was completed in 2008. It is in Wat Muang, Aung Thong in Thailand.

The statue is made of concrete cement and is painted gold. Its official name is Mahaminh Sakayamunee Visejchaicharn. There is another Buddha statue in Phuket, Thailand. Called the Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha, it is 45 m (150 ft) high.

Buddha Statues in China and Japan

One of the largest Buddha statues in the world is the Lingshan Buddha in Jiangsu, China. The copper statue is 87 m (290 ft) high. The Great Buddha of Kamakura in Kamakura City, Japan is 11.5 m (38 ft) high and weighs 124 tons. The official name is Kondo-Amida-Nyorai-Zo.

The Great Buddha of Nara in Nara, Japan is 15 m (49 ft) high. It is made of copper. The official name is Rushanabutsu. The Yungang Buddha is in Shan-Xi, China. It stands 17 m (56 ft). The Longmen Buddha is also 17 m (56 ft) tall. It is found in Henan, China. It is made of stone.

The Tian Tan Buddha or Big Buddha, is a bronze statue. It is in Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, in Hong Kong. It stands 34 meters (110 ft) tall and weighs 250 metric tons. There are many others, but the Spring Temple remains the largest Buddha statue in the world today.