When you think about the word “happiness”, many different thoughts usually come into your mind. However, if you take a look at Japanese culture, you will quickly come across the seven lucky gods (Shichi Fukujin). In our upcoming blog posts, we will explain their meaning and origin bit by bit. We start this series with Benzaiten, the only female deity among the seven gods. In this sense, we call it Ladies First.
Takarabune – the treasure ship
In Japanese culture, there is a belief that the seven lucky gods enter the city’s harbor on New Year’s day on their treasure ship Takarabune. In their luggage they have seven immaterial and five material treasures. Among the immaterial treasures are, for example, knowledge and luck, while the material treasures are something like an inexhaustible purse or a magic wooden mallet (Uchide no kozuchi).
The goddess of water
Benzaiten, the “sky goddess of eloquence” is worshipped in Buddhism and Japanese culture. Her origin, however, is the Indian river goddess Sarasvati. The goddess figure of the Benten, who is worshipped in Japan today, like the other seven lucky gods, was created under the influence of various cultures, e.g. Hinduism. Descending from Sarasvati, Benzaiten is also associated with the element of water, symbolizing her as the goddess of eloquence. This interpretation is possibly due to the sound of splashing water. She is also regarded as the protector of geishas, dancers and musicians and the arts in general. A companion is always assigned to all seven gods of luck. As a water goddess, the companions of benzaites are typically a white snake or a dragon. According to a legend, she even tamed a child-eating dragon by marrying it.
Benzaiten as tattoo motif
Traditionally Benzaiten is represented emphatically female with a lute (Biwa). This representation has developed over the centuries, because in the figure of the Benzaiten various influences are connected together. Instead of the instrument it is represented here with the key of luck and a dragon. Swen has chosen this representation with clouds instead of water for this backpiece, in order to place the appropriate water with a dragon or snake on the legs below. So there is still the possibility to extend the motive to a bodysuit.
The goddess of the arts is actually made to get under your skin as a work of art. As you can see on Swen’s design, the goddess Benzaiten is ideal as a Japanese tattoo for the back or a sleeve. Please contact Swen via our contact form, if you want to go deeper into the subject or if you are interested in such a large project.
What the other lucky gods stand for, we’ll explain to you as announced above in this seven-part series about the Japanese lucky gods. So you can be curious.