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The celestial Buddha named Hotei or Pu-Tai is best known as the jolly Laughing Buddha. In China, he is known as the Loving or Friendly One. His large protruding stomach and jolly smile have given him the common designation Laughing Buddha.
The Laughing Buddha's image graces many temples, restaurants, and amulets, as he has become a deity of contentment and abundance. The image is almost always seen carrying a cloth or linen sack (that which never empties) which is filled with many precious items, including rice plants (indicating wealth), candy for children, food, or the woes of the world. He is patron of the weak, poor and children. Laughing Buddha statues depict a stout, smiling or laughing bald man in robes with a largely exposed pot belly stomach, which symbolizes happiness, good luck, and plenitude. Some sculpture has small children at his feet.
According to legend, if one rubs the Laughing Buddha's great belly, it brings forth wealth, good luck, and prosperity. Hotei is also referred to as the patron saint of restaurateurs, fortunetellers and bartenders. When one overeats or over drinks, friends jokingly attribute it to the Laughing Buddha's influence.