Statues and pictures of Caishen at an altar in Taishan.
Caishen or Cai Shen (simplified Chinese: 财神; traditional Chinese: 財神; literally "God of Wealth") is the Chinese god of prosperity worshipped in the Chinese ethnic religion. He can be referred to as Zhao Gongming (Chao Kung-ming) or Bigan (Pi-kan). 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 with an iron tool capable of turning stone and iron into gold.
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. Most probably it represents merging of several heterogeneous legends, the one of Bigan being the most ancient.
It is believed that Bigan had a wife with the surname Chen (陈) (Chan in Cantonese and Chin in Hakka). His son is Quan (泉). After Bigan was put to death by his nephew King Zhou of Shang, Bigan's 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 Lins by King Wu of Zhou.
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