The fat Buddha appeared when Buddhism reached China. The fat Buddha doesn’t actually represent the real Indian Buddha. I think the belief structure was twisted a bit when Fat Buddha (which represents material happiness) came about. Real Buddhism emphasizes the opposite, one should seek happiness from within, not externally. So these Fat Buddha statues were sold as good luck charms, stating that if you rub its belly, you’ll gain financial fortune. Perhaps the selling of these statues has a bit to do with spreading the religion around China. Who knows?
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