Shichifukujin: The Seven Gods of Fortune
Last New Years Eve I was inspired to draw the Shichifukujin (Seven Lucky Gods) by a Twitter thread written by CamelliaKyoto. I wasn’t able to finish them all before midnight as I hoped but I tweeted the rough sketches I was able to do in a thread (link to that) and said I’d post the finished set on my website when they were finished. I credited CammelliaKyoto for the information I was using and they said that when I was done they’d add my art to the thread. I was extremely flattered so I said I’d do my best!
...So I’ve been doing my best for a while now. So much so that it's almost an entirely new year. To be fair I had a few other things I had promised people that needed to be taken care of first... and also I'm dumb.
My original plan was to post them all when they were all done but sitting on so much finished art was too much of a drag on me. So then I had the idea of making a thread on tumblr in which I’d reblog with a new god as I finished them. ...but by that time I had so many of them either finished or close to finished that that idea seemed redundant. But then again, I'd really like to add their animal friends so if I do that that makes them technically further from done. But really, to be completely honest, I just want to finish this so I can move on to other projects. ...unless I'm somehow able to turn them into figures or paper craft or something like that. Dang, I'd like that.
Now finally, a whole damn year later I finally have a plan for how to go about posting these things! I’m gonna post what I’ve finished right here in this post and add more as I finish them. And every time I post one here I’m gonna make corresponding threads on my Jigoku Yeah twitter and tumblr plus posts on my personal Instagram which will auto post to my personal tumblr. I’m gonna try to post as much as I can before the new year but if there’s anything left over I’m giving myself a January 8th deadline.
I’ll also include a little info on them here but I’ll be sticking to just what they represent and how to tell them apart. Because I’m also educating myself as I do this and this stuff can be REALLY confusing. A lot of them are gods of multiple things and there’s a lot of overlap. But maybe that’s why they’re so lucky. Each of them represents so much stuff that they’re sure to have all your bases covered.
BTW If you want to see more of my process, check out this post on my Patreon!
Okay, *claps hands above head* let’s get started!
Specialty: God of commerce, wealth, agriculture, the kitchen. patron of cooks, farmers and bankers,
Daikokuten can most easily be recognized by the magic mallet he carries. The mallet is called the Uchi-no-Kozuchi meaning “Tap Appear Mallet” and can produce money or grant wishes when struck against something or swung. He’s often seen sitting on two rice bales to represent abundance and carrying a huge sack similar to Hotei’s. Sometimes he’s accompanied by a little white rat friend since rats are often seen around grains.
God of: Abundance, good health, and guardian of children. Patron of bartenders
Identifiers: Hotei is a bald Buddhist monk with a big belly that he lets hang out of his robe. He carries a huge cloth bag and sometimes an oogi fan. The cloth bag holds an infinite supply of treasures and gifts, including food and drink for the needy. It’s so big he can often be seen lounging on it.
God of: “Goddess of everything that flows” time, words, eloquence, music, and knowledge. Patron of artists, writers, dancers, geisha, and performers
Identifiers: Benzaiten might be the easiest to spot in the group because she’s the only lady.
She carries a string instrument called a Biwa and wears a floaty scarf called a “hagoromo” meaning “robe of feathers” that gives the wearer the power of flight.
Benzaiten is sometimes depicted with a white snake or her dragon boyfriend. I've started drawing her dragon boyfriend but I'm going to leave that for another post.
Specialties: Longevity, Wisdom, popularity, patron of chess players
Identifiers: The easiest way to tell Fukurokuju apart from the rest of the Shichifukujin is his giant head. (Although some depictions of Jurojin also give him a big head) He’s also sometimes accompanied by a few animal friends, most often a crane but sometimes a tortoise or stag. All of which are animals that symbolize long life.
Fun fact: Fukurokuju has the ability to raise the dead but doesn’t apparently.
Specialties: prosperity in business, abundance, food, fair dealing. Patron of sailors, merchants, business executives, and foreigners.
Identifiers: Carries a big fish (usually a sea bream) and a fishing pole. ...Huh, thought I’d have more to say here.
Specialties: happiness in old age. Longevity. Personification of the southern polar star
Identifiers: Jurojin can be difficult to separate from Fukurokuju. They’re both gods of longevity and wisdom, both old men with long beards and staffs, and both possess scrolls of wisdom that also contain the lifespans of every living thing. In fact, they’re so similar that they’re sometimes said to be two different manifestations of the same god. I’m not sure what the point of splitting yourself into two separate people would be- especially if you’re going to make the two so similar anyway- but they’re gods so they can probably do whatever they want.
The easiest way to tell Jurojin apart from Fukurokuju is that Jurojin usually the one with the hat. But even then there are some depictions of him with a similar head to Fukurokuju. However, from what I can tell it’s more common these days to distinguish him with a hat. He’s also often depicted with a stag- again, a symbol of longevity- and holding a peach. Of course, Fukurokuju is also sometimes depicted with a stag but Jurojin more so.
God of: warriors (but not war), Guardian of buddhist virtues, treasure, dignity
Identifiers: Bishamonten wears armor and carries a spear which he uses to defend against evil. In one hand he carries a small tower that holds the treasure of faith, straightforwardness,duty, and honor.