Gold Chinese Laughing Buddha / Happy Buddha / Ho Tai / Prosperity Buddha
Ho Tai, as he is called in Chinese, is often confused with the Historical Buddha. But a word to the wise; Ho Tai is not the Buddha at all, but is actually a revered Chinese Monk. He is somewhat akin to the West’s Santa Claus / St. Nick, since Ho Tai was famous for his Buddhist sermons and for his bag full of gifts, which he brought to children in order to reward them for coming to learn about the Dharma.
Part of the reason Ho Tai is confused with the Buddha is because they both wear robes, and that in certain languages (Thai, for instance) the vernacular word for the Buddha and for Monks is the same, namely, the word “Phra.” It can be confusing even for us Thai people, because if someone were to use JUST the word Phra, we might not know whether they were referring to the Buddha himself, a monk, a statue of the Buddha, or even an amulet (religious pendant) featuring an image of the Buddha… or an image of a highly revered monk!
Ho Tai is often depicted in various forms as well, either with his arms above his head, reaching skyward, or sometimes holding a bag or knapsack over one shoulder. But no matter how he is depicted, he always has a happy face.