K537 The Four Gods of Good Fortune Enjoying Hanami by Kokan Myōyo 古礀明譽

One, two, three,
Four Gods of Good Fortune
Festive under the blossoms

[sealed] Kokan Myōyo

Kokan Myōyo (古礀明譽, 1653-1717)
K537 hanging scroll, sumi on paper 31.4 cm × 48.8 cm.

The four Gods of Good Fortune—Ebisu, Fukurokuju, Daikoku, and Hotei—are shown here gaily singing and dancing under the cherry blossoms. It is a hail-hail-the-gang-is-all-here scene with each god bringing his respective special gift to the party. Ebisu has brought a big fish, Fukurokuju has brought the gift of longevity, Daikoku brought bales of rice, and Hotei brought his bag of goodies holding whatever one desires. In a sense the four gods represent four great belief systems of Asia: Ebisu (Shintō), Fukurokuju (Taoism), Daikoku (Hinduism*), and Hotei (Buddhism). All four gods get along splendidly. This Zenga shows that the best good fortune is for human beings to act like these gods, enjoying the bounties of nature and getting along in harmony. * Daikoku means “Great Black One,” one of the names of Shiva.