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In Japan, Daikokuten (大黒天), the god of great darkness or blackness, or the god of five cereals, is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune. Daikokuten evolved from the Hindu deity Shiva and became intertwined with the Shinto god Ōkuninushi. The name is the Japanese equivalent of Mahākāla, a Buddhist variant of Shiva.
The god enjoys an exalted position as a household deity in Japan. Daikoku's association with wealth and prosperity precipitated a custom known as fuku-nusubi, or "theft of fortune". This custom started with the belief that he who stole divine figures (gods and goddesses) was assured of good fortune, if not caught in the act of stealing. In the course of time, stealing divine images became so common a practice in Japan that the Toshi-no-ichi or the "year-end-market" held in the Asakusa Kannon temple became the main venue of the sale and disposal of such images by the fortune-seekers. Many small stalls were opened where articles including images of Daikoku were sold on the eve of New Year celebrations.
The Japanese also maintain the symbol of Mahakala as a monogram. The traditional pilgrims climbing the holy Mount Ontake wear tenugui (white Japanese scarves) with the seed syllable[clarification needed] of Mahakala.
Daikoku is variously considered to be the god of wealth, or of the household, particularly the kitchen. He is recognised by his wide face, smile, and a flat black hat. He is often portrayed holding a golden mallet called an Uchide no kozuchi, otherwise known as a magic money mallet, and is seen seated on bales of rice, with mice nearby (mice signify plentiful food).
Daikoku's image was featured on the first Japanese bank note, designed by Edoardo Chiossone.
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- Roberts, Jeremy (2009). Japanese Mythology A to Z. Infobase Publishing. p. 28.
- Pal, Pratapaditya. Indian Sculpture: 700-1800. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. p. 180.
- Japan and Indian Asia by Hajime Nakamura. Publisher: Firma KLM, 1961. Publication Date: 1961
- India and Japan: A Study in interaction during 5th cent - 14th century - By Upendra Thakur .
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