Happy Buddha or Zen Buddha ?

Did you know that several very different characters, has been dubbed "Buddha" ? The two most important are the Shakyamuni Buddha (often called "Zen Buddha"), and the Happy Buddha (or "chinese Buddha"). Who are they in reality ?

Statue Bouddha Zen

The Buddha Shakyamuni.

It is a genuine historical figure, the founder of Buddhism. He was born in the north of India, there are about 2500 years old. His real name is Siddhartha Gautama, but he was called "Buddha Shakyamuni" : "Buddha" meaning "awakened one," and "Shakyamuni", "the hermit of the tribe of the Shakya".

Siddhartha was a wealthy indian prince who renounced the throne, and to the abundance of the princely life to devote himself to spirituality and find out how to ease the suffering of the human existence.

According to the legend, he was the first human being to know the awakening, and he decided to teach his knowledge all over India for helping each person to unleash its potential. His teachings were recorded as sutras and gave birth to Buddhism, a religion and a philosophy of life that advocates peace and compassion.

Bouddha rieur

The Happy Buddha.

This character is not really a Buddha. But he was also really existed ! His name is Budai (or Hotei in japanese).

It is a buddhist monk chinese who would have lived there about 1000 years old, and who searched all the lands of China, with his heavy backpack to make the good around him : it is said that he repaired the broken toys of children, offered the money to the food to the poor, and spread the joy and good humor wherever he went.

Over the centuries, the chinese tradition has made the taoist god of happiness and prosperity : his broad smile and his belly portly symbolize the ideals of a successful life.

Its nickname of the Buddha comes from his resemblance to the Buddha of the future, referred to in buddhist texts and called the "Maitreya Buddha" : the Benevolent.

Which of these two characters do you associate with Buddha ? Which one to choose for your decoration ?

If you want your decor is inspired by themes such as spirituality, well-being and relaxation, the Shakyamuni Buddha is the statue for you.

If you prefer the influences of the chinese culture, the evocation of happiness and prosperity, or if you're superstitious, the Buddha inside is here for you !

What material to choose ?

The statues and representations of Buddha are available in several materials, but there are especially 4, which are the most common : resin, wood, stone and bronze.

Bouddha thaïlandais en résine

The statue of Buddha in resin : casting perfect.

The resin is certainly not the material the more noble for the statues of the Buddha, because the work of man is then reduced to its simplest expression.

The statues resin are, in reality, the casts, all perfectly identical, a statue that has served as a model. Each model is then painted a more or less artisanal.

The statue in resin, however, presents the advantage to offer an impeccable finish (no fault of sculpture !), and offering a degree of modernity that can be an advantage to integrate better in modern interiors or contemporary.

Attention : many statues resin trying to pass as authentic sculptures ! You will find more and more so-called sculptures of Buddha on the counter, which actually are castings formed with a mixture of resin and powder will.

Bouddha chinois en bois

The statue of Buddha in wood : each piece is unique !

For people who are looking for a statue of the Buddha is more authentic than those in the resin, the wooden statue is a great choice !

Its price is a little higher. But the difference is not so huge in reality.

And most importantly, each wooden statue is an authentic craft work made entirely by hand. This is noticeable at first glance. While there look at even more the countless trinkets in resin, as they are mundane and meaningless, a wooden statue is always going to stir up the curiosity of the one who passes in front of it. We like to observe every detail of sculpture by trying to imagine the gesture of the craftsman. We admire the artistic talent and the beauty of the wood. You can't help stroking the material...

As for each single work, the work of the hand of the man is noticeable. Sometimes, slight imperfections bear witness to that authenticity. But it was an object to hand, which is kept for a long time and then transmits, insensitive to the effects of fashion.

We like his style or not, the statue of Buddha in wood is always a unique piece.

Statue de Bouddha en pierre

The statue of Buddha in stone : art in the raw state.

The statue of Buddha in stone is probably the most representative of the crafts of Asia : if you are traveling in India, Japan, Thailand or Bali, you see hundreds on the outskirts of the temples, or even in parks and gardens.

There are two types of statues in stone :

  • The statues in the raw stone carved : they are rare and expensive in Europe because they require many hours of work (the stone is a material that is quite expensive and requires a lot of time carving), and are difficult to transport due to their very high weight. A statue of the Buddha of 80cm height in rough stone costs between 450 and 1200€ depending on the model. Below this price range, it is most of the time a statue in reconstituted stone.
  • The statues in reconstructed stone are generally made from a casting of rude, and then finished by hand. The reconstituted stone is most often a mixture of noble stone powder (marble, stone, Java, etc...), and resin or cement. They are much less expensive than their counterparts in the raw stone, but their appearance is more and more successful thanks to the technical progress of the craftsmen.

They were in a rough stone or reconstituted stone, statues of Buddha in stone have the advantage of being able to be exposed to outside without require a lot of maintenance. So, you can expose them all year round on your patio or in the garden.

Beware, however : the stone that revived fears the strong frosts. Below -10°c it will be better to put the statue away.

Nota bene : there are also depictions of the Buddha in semi-precious stones (jade, lapis lazuli, etc...). They are generally of very small size (less than 10cm in height).

Statue de Bouddha en bronze

The statue of Buddha in bronze : a noble material, to celebrate the greatness of Buddha.

Nothing is too good for Buddha ! The devotion of the faithful is such that the material of the most rare and expensive have been used to create gorgeous statues.

Include, the bronze of Asia, sometimes referred to as regulates, which offers us some specimens really beautiful. The bronze is an alloy that allows you to create, by molding, magnificent statues, which are distinguished by their beautiful golden color, satiny finish and classic style, very authentic. Having a statue of Buddha in bronze, it's like having a little piece of Asia at home !

The bronze statues are (with equal size) more expensive than those made of wood or reconstituted stone. But they really have a style to share and disseminate will be very special.

Statue of Buddha Shakyamuni : the different styles, expressions, gestures (mûdras).

If you prefer the statues of Shakyamuni Buddha, here is some information that will help you can be to choose your statue.

Among the different representations of Buddha Shakyamuni, there are 2 styles major : the burmese style and the thai style.

Then, for each of these 2 styles, the Buddha can be represented in different postures (standing, sitting, or lying down), and his hands can form various body expressions-traditional, called Mûdras. Here is a brief overview.

The burmese style.

Bouddha birman

It consists generally in the burmese style Buddhas represented with a chignon in the shape of a ball.

The thai style.

Bouddha thaïlandais

Buddha thai-style is recognized by its bun cut in the shape of bud of flower of lotus.

The body expressions of the Buddha, or Mûdras.


Bhumisparsa-mudra : the gesture of calling the earth.

It is in this posture that Buddha called the earth to testify of his spiritual awakening, when the demonic forces trying to overthrow him in order to place their king, Mara, under the sacred tree of the bodhi.


Dhyana-mudra : the gesture of meditation.

It is the gesture most commonly represented, the one that éxécutait Buddha during his long sessions of fasting and meditation under the sacred tree of the bodhi.


Vitarka-mudra : the gesture of argumentation.

It is the gesture that adopted the Buddha when he taught the doctrine to his disciples and explained to them the divine law.


Dharmacakra-mudra : the gesture of turning the wheel of the law.

It is the gesture made by the Buddha during his first sermon in public.


Abhaya-mudra : the gesture of protection.

This gesture gave to the Buddha the power to repel evil attacks. An elephant in fury was a day rushed to the Buddha to kill him before he reaches enlightenment. Buddha made this gesture, and the elephant stopped and knelt down to pay homage to him.


Anjali-mudra, or Atmanjali-mudra : the gesture of prayer or tribute.

It is a gesture of prayer, ritual, or also the act that were the disciples of the Buddha to pay homage to their master.

One last tip...

I hope that this information has been helpful, and they will help you to choose your statue of Buddha.

My last piece of advice ? Listen to your heart, trust your instincts : this is the best guide to choose well ! By observing one after the other, the different buddha statues that are offered to you, you will feel fast enough for a preference for a style, a material, a posture... Follow this feeling, and if your finances allow, choose the statue of Buddha which has the most googly eyes and stimulated your curiosity. You will keep this object probably a long time, so it's really worth to choose the statue that you like the most.

See you soon.