Rub His Belly For Good Luck

On one of my walks a few weeks ago, I passed a small collection of sand sculptures. Guarding the sculptures was an extremely rotund man sitting in a sturdy beach chair under a large bright beach umbrella.

The works were nice but nothing exceptional and the few coins in the donations box were an indication that I wasn’t alone in my assessment. We shared “holas” and I continued my walk.

I thought, ‘What the artist should do is create a large sculpture of the Laughing Buddha* and then “the guardian” should sit right next to it for pictures. I’ll bet that little cardboard box would be constantly filled.’

Later that day, I told San Geraldo about my Laughing Buddha idea.

Well, Friday, on my way to the doctor, I passed that same spot. There was my rotund friend sitting contentedly next to Laughing Buddha. The artist (click here for an example of his earlier work) must have read my mind. People were lining up to take pictures and the donations box was filled with coins. I would probably take it a step further and dress the guardian in Laughing Buddha’s robes, and give him the traditional prayer beads and cloth sack. Imagine the photo opportunities.

It’s thought that rubbing Laughing Buddha’s belly will bring you wealth, good luck, and prosperity. Rubbing a sand-made Laughing Buddha wouldn’t be very practical. I wonder if they’ve considered belly rubs of the guardian… for an additional fee, of course.


Laughing Buddha is not actually “the” Buddha (as I had always thought), but Budai, a 10th-century Chán monk said to be a man of good and loving character. I learn something new every day!

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

17 thoughts on “Rub His Belly For Good Luck”

    1. Andrew:
      I've seen much better "Laughing Buddha" sand sculptures. And I think this one was modeled on the face of the guard. But you don't need to worry about taking the Buddha seriously. He's the laughing one who takes everything with a smile.

  1. I remember a laughing buddha in my grandfather's office; this is when I first heard of rubbing his stomach for good luck. Later I learned the Chinese thought the seat of human intelligence was in the abdomen (not the head). I think this more sense then to rub the belly.

    1. Spo:
      San Geraldo and I both had Laughing Buddha statues when we met. Mine was wood and his was ceramic. They were two of the items brought to Goodwill before we left California. I've never heard about human intelligence being in one's abdomen.

    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      He's not the sculptor. The sculptor is the guy who did the crocodiles (and others) at the start of season. This guy is the guard. The artists pay people to sit and protect their works from drunks, kids, etc.

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