Extract from the Book The Japanese Tattoo
The client's protruding abdomen suggested to tattoo master Horiyoshi III a design involving the Seven Deities of Good Fortune, widely worshiped by the merchant class of the seventh century, the time of tattoo's greatest fashion, and still popularly revered even today. Hotei, the bald-headed and enormously fat central figure, represents largeness of soul and inner wealth of resources. He was historically an eccentric Zen priest and an incarnation of the messiah of future bliss, the Maitreya or Miroku bodhisattva. The tattoo master has put this god distinguished by his large stomach on the large stomach of his client, so that he seems to be wearing his own self-portrait. Above Hotei in the tattoo is Jurojin, another of the good luck gods, and deity of longevity. This venerable old man always carries a holy staff to which is tied a scroll containing all the wisdom of the world. Wherever he goes he is accompanied by a crane, another symbol of longevity because long after the crane is lost to sight his voice can still be heard. On the left arm is a rendition of Kabuki makeup indicating a brave and angry commoner insulting samurai superiors and righting wrongs.
I highly recommend this book. Reasonable Price for very good photographs.
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