Historical Events  Religion

Buddha was fat

Buddha was not fat


Most people - especially Westerners - picture Buddha as a jolly fat man, sitting cross legged with a big round belly poking out.

So it comes as quite a surprise to them when they learn this image is completely wrong, because it's a different person altogether. You can see many images of the laughing fat guy, including ornaments and statues all over the world - and grinning at you from the corner of your local Chinese restaurant.

The Buddha was called Siddhartha Gautama and lived in India. He was born in the year 567 BC in southern Nepal. He was slim.

However, a central tenet of Buddhism is reincarnation, and Buddhists believe Gautama was but one of many incarnations of the same being. Another was a 10th century monk in China called Budai, and, you guessed it, he was the fat laughing guy.

The popular image

Of course those better informed, and in particular real Buddhists, know full well these images don't represent the actual, single definitive Buddha, but the casual observer just sees them as haviong changed which explains their confusion.

There is a reason the status appears next to cash registers - he is the patron saint of bartenders and restauranteurs.