Cai Shen

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A Chinese wucai pottery statuette of Cai Shen holding a hollow golden ingot into which coins can be placed as offerings or incense can be burned; at his base are the words "Cai Shen Dao" ("The Wealth God Arrives") and on his chest is the name "Lu," associating him with Lu, the Star God of Prosperity

Cai Shen, also spelled Caishen, whose name means "Wealth God," is an ancient deity of prosperity. As the major wealth god within Taoism and Chinese folk religion, he is venerated in his own right and also syncretized with other deities and noble historical figures. Although he primarily represents financial wealth, he is sometimes seen as a Door God or Men Shen, encountered when entering Taoist temples and shrines. He is venerated during Chinese New Year festivities on the fifth day of the first Lunar month, to foster prosperity in the New Year. In Buddhism, he may be syncretized with the wealth god Jambhala, and in Vietnamese folk religion, he may be syncretized with Than Thai, the Wealth God, venerated on the 10th day of the Lunar New Year. He is also commonly syncretized with Lu, the Star God of Prosperity.

Within Taoism, there are many two main categories of Wealth Gods - the Literary Wealth Gods, whose skills are those of scholarship, philosophy, and wisdom; and the Military Wealth Gods, who have been deified due to their services to their rulers and the people. Cai Shen can take on aspects of some of these historical personages.

  • Bi Gan is a Literary Wealth God from the region of Mo Yi, son of Shang Wang Wen Ding and a member of the Yin Shang royal Family. He carries a curved Ru Yi scepter or a Yuan Bao gold ingot, and wears a prime minister's Sha Mao gauze hat and ministerial Mang Pao robe in the style of the Ming (1368-1644 CE) and Qing (1644-1911 CE) dynasties.
  • Fan Li (536 - 448 BCE) is a Literary Wealth God. A minister of King Gou Jian of Yue (reigned 496–465 BC), he was a military strategist, politician, and businessman who made a fortune in agriculture and commerce. Instead of hoarding his wealth, he retired, changed his name to Tao Zhu Gong, lived on a fishing boat, and distributed his money to the poor.
  • Marshal Zhao Gongming, also known as "The essence of the Sun", is a Military Wealth God and one of the four protectors of Taoism. He has a black face and a thick beard, wears a crown, and carries a whip. He rides upon, or is accompanied by, a tiger. A Door Gods who repels evil and invites blessings, he is venerated on the 15th day of the third month of the lunar calendar.
  • Guan Yu or Kwan Yu (160 - 219 BCE) is a Military Wealth God. In life he was a Chinese military leader who was famed as a just, loyal, and noble warrior. After his death in battle, he was deified within the Taoist religion and given honorific names such as Kuan Kung and Guan Gong (Lord Guan); and Kuan Tai (Military General God or Military Emperor God).



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