The monk Budai, also known as the Laughing Buddha, is an incarnation of the bodhisattva Maitreya, the Buddha predicted to succeed Gautama Buddha in the future. Typically depicted with a joyful expression and wearing loose-fitting robes to reveal his plump stomach, representing contentment and abundance, Budai is also associated with the protection of children and is often shown with small children playfully climbing on his belly or back.
A virtually identical figure from the Benjamin W. Yim Collection was included in the exhibition, The Grandeur of Chinese Art Treasures: Min Chiu Society Golden Jubilee Exhibition, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 25 September 2010 - 2 January 2011, and is illustrated by Rose Wing Chong Lee, "Gems of Art, Joys of Collecting," Arts of Asia, Vol. 40, No. 5, October 2010, p. 83, fig. 15, where it is described as Qingbai ware and dated to the Yuan dynasty.