a child in Japan has been soothed to sleep by a nursery rhyme about "Ebis Sama,
Daikok Sama...", and few homes are completed without a painting or statue of one
or more of these popular bringers of good luck. They are frequently represented
in illustrations and books in the 18th and 19th centuries, not as gods of reverence,
but part of the religious culture in Japanese daily life.
Seven Gods of Luck are a heterogeneous collection of deities. Their origin is
strangely varied being derived from four religious sources, Buddhism, Taoism,
Shintoism and Brahmanism. How and when these group of deities were classed together
remains a mystery. The earliest examples of their association is in a painting
dated from the 17th century, which is in the collection of the British Museum.