Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Hotei in the Garden

Hotei sits in a sunny alcove in the garden under a canopy of old rose canes and buckthorn leaves. Birds serenade him in early morning, and rabbits visit him at nightfall. Bumbles and dragonflies buzz around him, spiders knit him into their webs, and sometimes butterflies land on him. There is a steady rain of grass clippings, also maple keys, leaf dust and pine needles from the trees over his head.

My old guy looks as though he is carved from stone, but he is made of some kind of resin, and he weighs only a pound or so. I found him in the window of a thrift shop many years ago and purchased him for a dollar. He presides over a leafy enclave in the garden from early April until late October when I tuck him away in the garden shed for the winter. He is not alone out there - a metal crane in a fetching shade of blue stands nearby. Perhaps they have conversations when no one is around?

The original Hotei was a wandering 10th-century Chinese Buddhist monk named Qici (契此who came to be regarded as an incarnation of Maitreya, the Buddha still to come. In Asian cultures, he represents abundance and contentment, and he is the protector of children. For some strange reason, he is also the patron of bartenders. On his back, he carries a bottomless bag of food, drink and coins which he shares with those in need, and he is usually shown holding a mala (Buddhist rosary). One of these days, I would like to find a resin statue of Kuan Yin for the garden too. 

No matter what kind of day I am having, the old guy makes me smile, and that is something beyond price, thrift shop origins or no.


Barbara Rogers said...


francesray.substack.com said...

He is such a delight, Cate. I have no doubt your sharp eyes are able to find such treasures among the jumble of thrift shops. Thank you.