The most popular God of business, wealth and trade, Daikoku is usually paired with Ebisu and can often be seen on netsuke, masks and innumerable carvings. Originally, Daikoku was a fierce protector deity but from the 17th century onwards, he became the God of Farmers and Wealth. Usually he is seen standing on bales of rice, with a wide face and merrily smiling wearing a flat black hat, clad in traditional Japanese robes.
He is generally wearing a hood and has a huge sack of treasures and wealth slung over his shoulder. He is also seen holding a small magic mallet in his hand.
As a deity of providing food and deity of the kitchen, images of Daikoku can be found in some of the kitchens of ancient monasteries and in traditional homes. Daikoku traces his origins to Indian God, Lord Shiva, while he also resembles the mystical Shinto figure, popularly known as ‘Prince of Plenty’. The Lucky mallet is supposed to give anything that is desired while the Japanese mythology ascertains that coins fall out when it is struck. While others believe that the mallet has to be struck three times on the ground and then the wish is granted.
Daikoku is considered to be the father of Ebisu and often depicted with him. On most statues, there is a symbol of the Buddhist ‘wish granting jewel’ on the mallet that signifies the divine powers of Daikoku and the possibility of granting wealth and wishes to devotees. One of the seven symbols of royal power in Buddhism, the wish granting jewel also acts as a crystal ball and gives the holder the ability to foresee the future.
In Japan, people in most of the temples dedicated to Daikoku rub the shoulders and the head of the idol as they believe that will bring them good luck and fortune. There has been a tradition in Japan of rubbing the statues and then rub that part of the body to get divine healing. Considering that Daikoku statues were also rubbed, shows that people considered him a healer too.
As a sign of reverence, the image of Daikoku was printed on the first Japanese banknote which was designed by the artist, Edoardo Chiossone and shows deep impact of traditions in Japan.
There are many materials used to craft the statues of the Seven Lucky Gods, individual statues of Daikoku and some statues of Daikoku and Ebisu together. With traditional belief that hinges on keeping small and large statues at home and at the workplace, Daikoku is a popular choice for bringing good fortune and wealth.
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