God of Happiness
God of Happiness, Fu Shên, owes his origin to the
predilection of the Emperor Wu Ti (A.D. 502–50) of the
Liang dynasty for dwarfs as servants and comedians in his
palace. The number levied from the Tao Chou district in
Hunan became greater and greater, until it seriously
prejudiced the ties of family relations. When Yang Ch’êng,
alias Yang Hsi-chi, was Criminal Judge of Tao Chou he
represented to the Emperor that, according to law, the
dwarfs were his subjects but not his slaves. Being touched
by this remark, the Emperor ordered the levy to be stopped.
at their liberation from this hardship, the people of that
district set up images of Yang and offered sacrifices to
him. Everywhere he was venerated as the Spirit of Happiness.
It was in this simple way that there came into being a god
whose portraits and images abound everywhere throughout the
country, and who is worshipped almost as universally as the
God of Riches himself.
person who attained to the dignity of God of Happiness
(known as Tsêng-fu Hsiang-kung, ‘the Young Gentleman who
Increases Happiness’) was Li Kuei-tsu, the minister of
Emperor Wên Ti of the Wei dynasty, the son of the famous
Ts’ao Ts’ao, but in modern times the honour seems to
have passed to Kuo Tzŭ-i. He was the saviour of the
T’ang dynasty from the depredations of the Turfans in the
reign of the Emperor Hsüan Tsung. He lived A.D. 697–781,
was a native of Hua Chou, in Shensi, and one of the most
illustrious of Chinese generals. He is very often
represented in pictures clothed in blue official robes,
leading his small son Kuo Ai to Court.
God of Wealth
with many other Chinese gods, the proto-being of the God of
Wealth, Ts’ai Shên, has been ascribed to several persons.
The original and best known until later times was Chao Kung-ming.
The accounts of him differ also, but the following is the
Chiang Tzŭ-ya was fighting for Wu Wang of the Chou
dynasty against the last of the Shang emperors, Chao Kung-ming,
then a hermit on Mount Ô-mei, took the part of the latter.
He performed many wonderful feats. He could ride a black
tiger and hurl pearls which burst like bombshells. But he
was eventually overcome by the form of witchcraft known in
Wales as Ciurp Creadh. Chiang Tzŭ-ya made a straw image
of him, wrote his name on it, burned incense and worshipped
before it for twenty days, and on the twenty-first shot
arrows made of peach-wood into its eyes and heart. At that
same moment Kung-ming, then in the enemy’s camp, felt ill
and fainted, and uttering a cry gave up the ghost.
on Chiang Tzŭ-ya persuaded Yüan-shih T’ien-tsun to
release from the Otherworld the spirits of the heroes who
had died in battle, and when Chao Kung-ming was led into his
presence he praised his bravery, deplored the circumstances
of his death, and canonized him as President of the Ministry
of Riches and Prosperity.
God of Riches is universally worshipped in China; images and
portraits of him are to be seen everywhere. Talismans, trees
of which the branches are strings of cash, and the fruits
ingots of gold, to be obtained merely by shaking them down,
a magic inexhaustible casket full of gold and silver—these
and other spiritual sources of wealth are associated with
this much-adored deity. He himself is represented in the
guise of a visitor accompanied by a crowd of attendants
laden with all the treasures that the hearts of men, women,
and children could desire.
God of Longevity
of Longevity, Shou Hsing, was first a stellar deity, later
on represented in human form. It was a constellation formed
of the two star-groups Chio and K’ang, the first two on
the list of twenty-eight constellations. Hence, say the
Chinese writers, because of this precedence, it was called
the Star of Longevity. When it appears the nation enjoys
peace, when it disappears there will be war. Ch’in Shih
Huang-ti, the First Emperor, was the first to offer
sacrifices to this star, the Old Man of the South Pole, at
Shê Po, in 246 B.C. Since then the worship has been
continued pretty regularly until modern times.
desire for something more concrete, or at least more
personal, than a star led to the god’s being represented
as an old man. Connected with this is a long legend which
turns on the point that after the father of Chao Yen had
been told by the celebrated physiognomist Kuan Lo that his
son would not live beyond the age of nineteen, the
transposition from shih-chiu, nineteen, to chiu-shih,
ninety, was made by one of two gamblers, who turned out to
be the Spirit of the North Pole, who fixes the time of
decease, as the Spirit of the South Pole does that of birth.
deity is a domestic god, of happy mien, with a very high
forehead, usually spoken of as Shou Hsing Lao T’ou Tzŭ,
‘Longevity Star Old-pate,’ and is represented as riding
a stag, with a flying bat above his head. He holds in his
hand a large peach, and attached to his long staff are a
gourd and a scroll. The stag and the bat both indicate fu,
happiness. The peach, gourd, and scroll are symbols of