Subject:Re: Buddha Statue
Posted By: Bill H Wed, May 01, 2019
This is an image of the "Budai Heshang", or "Cloth Sack Monk", also commonly called in the West the "Happy" or "Laughing" Buddha. The "Budai", as the image also is known for short, is an avatar of the Bodhisattva (Mortal Buddha) Maitreya.
The base-mark reads from the top right down and across as "Fujian Association, Made by You Changzi" (Fujian Huiguan, You Changzi Zao - 福建會館游長子造). The Fujian Association, also called "Fujian Guild" or "Club", was a famed group of porcelain modelers working at Jingdezhen during the early 20th century under the tutelage of Fujian Province native and Master You Changzi (1874-1922).
The mark on your grandfather's Budai compares well with one shown by the website gotheborg.com on a different image and said possibly to be correct. Since marks of You and his Fujian group have been widely copied, you would still need to authenticate the image with an expert versed in this particular type of porcelain sculpture. Any other documentary validation of its provenance would help advance the process.
The Gotheborg website notes how oral history tells of You Changzi's habit of modeling such figures in his own image. In my experience, your grandfather's Budai is more representative of traditional iconography for such images rather than the more personalized images sculpted by You. See the photo below of another Budai by early 20th century Jingdezhen sculptor, Wei Hongtai, which also reflects the traditional iconography.