I came across this oddity in a St Andrews shop recently. It seems to be a hybrid of symbolism from two different religious traditions. One, the image from Buddhism of a happy, fat Buddha, sitting cross-legged. The other of the three wise monkeys or ‘three mystic apes’ from Shintoism, representing the idea of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’.
Not sure this sort of hybrid symbolism would go down too well in Western religions though. Imagine the consequences if someone produced a statue of the prophet Mohammed nailed to a cross.