Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cai Shen

Cai Shen is the Chinese god of prosperity. He can be referred to as Zhao Gongming or Bi Gan. Though Cai Shen started as a Chinese folk hero, later deified and venerated by local followers and admirers, Taoism and Pure Land Buddhism also came to venerate him as a god.

Cai Shen's name is often invoked during the Chinese New Year celebrations. He is often depicted riding a black Tiger and holding a golden rod. He may also be depicted armed with any one of several iron weapons.

Several versions of Cai Shen's political affiliation and subsequent deification are circulated. It is unclear whether he is a genuine historical figure, though the vast majority of stories agree that Cai Shen lived during the early Qin Dynasty. It is believed that Bi Gan had a wife with the surname Chen , or Chan in Cantonese. His son is Quan . After Bi Gan was assassinated, his wife and son escaped into the woods. His death eventually marked the collapse of the Shang Dynasty. Later on, Quan was honoured as the ancestor of all by Zhou Wu Wang.

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