The Seven Gods of Fortune

Good things sometimes come in little packages: here is a tiny treasure discovered by a ‘fortunate’ treasure-hunter at a Queen B Estate Sale. This little set of one-inch tall Japanese figurines, six males and one female, are the Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神). They are a popular subject for carvings and paintings, and versions are produced in adjacent countries as well Japan.

The seven gods have Indian, Chinese and Tibetan roots; the only one who is purely Japanese is Ebisu, God of Fishermen. The lucky Japanese goddess Benzaiten, for instance, is drawn from Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of Learning and Knowledge, who is credited with creating both the Sanskrit language and the Indian lute. Most of the others originated in China.

Japanese tradition says the Seven Gods of Fortune sail the oceans together in a “treasure ship” and arrive in towns on the New Year to distribute fantastic gifts to all worthy people. Come treasure-hunt at Queen B Estate Sales and who knows what piece of great big or teeny-tiny good fortune you might discover!

As is often true in folklore, each god might represent different things in different regions, but here are the Seven Gods of Fortune most well-known attributes:

Ebisu (恵比須) The God of Fishermen or Merchants (often seen carrying a fish)

Bishamonten (毘沙門天) The God of Warriors

Jurōjin (寿老人) The God of Longevity

Benzaiten (弁財天) The Goddess of Knowledge, Art, Beauty and Music (often shown with a traditional Japanese lute)

Fukurokuju (福禄寿) The Taoist Hermit Sage God of Happiness, Wealth and Longevity

Hotei (布袋) The Fat and Happy God of Abundance and Good Health

Daikokuten (大黒天) The God of Wealth, Commerce and Trade

Sometimes the Japanese goddess Kichijōten, Goddess of Happiness, is depicted instead of Jurōjin, God of Longevity.

Thursday Treasures was started by our staff member, Jeanne. Each week she will be featuring items that have been found at our estate sales. If you would like to submit a treasure for Jeanne to feature in a future installment of “Thursday’s Treasures”, please follow the button below and send us an email! Please attach a few photos of your treasure in a beautiful setting as well as any details you have about your item such as manufacturer, use, age, region of origin. If you don’t know about the piece, that’s okay!  We still might be able to research it for you! Don’t forget to tell us what makes this item such a treasure to you!