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Standing Portrait of Emperor T'ai-tsung Lao-tzu Riding a Blue Ox Great Master, Kuan-yin
Lohan Pu-tai Great Master, SamantabhadraPeach Assembly of Immortals

Lohan Pu-tai
Chang Hung (1577-after 1668), Ming Dynasty
Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 60 x 30.6 cm


   The monk Cloth Sack (Pu-tai), of the Five Dynasties period, was said to be short and fat, having a deep brow and round belly. He carried his belongings in a cloth sack tied to a cane, hence his name. When begging, he would mutter "Maitreya, True Maitreya". After passing away, he was reincarnated with his cloth sack. He was felt to be an incarnation of Maitreya, thus the many images of him in Chekiang and Kiangsu. In chapters 65 and 66 of Journey to the West, the attendant Yellow Brow, said to be a disciple of the Maitreya Buddha, stole the Master's cloth sack of treasures and descended to the mortal realm to wreak havoc. Flinging the sack in battle, the opponent would be engulfed at once. The Monkey King begged Maitreya, who used his powers to capture the mischievous attendant. In the novel, Maitreya is described as follows:

  "With a wide visage of large ears and broad cheeks, the whole of his body from shoulders to belly is corpulent. He, like the New Year, is overflowing with merry, eyes beautifully bright and vast. He, covered in flowing sleeves of gracious good fortune, has a robust spirit spreading far and wide. He, the foremost Buddha in the land of Paradise, is the laughing Buddhist monk Maitreya."

 This is exactly the laughing appearance of Maitreya that we see in this painting.
Lohan Pu-tai
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