Cai Shen

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Cai Shen
妙峰山娘娘庙财神.JPG
Statue representing Caishen at Miaofengshan.
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 財神
Simplified Chinese 财神
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Thần Tài
Chữ Nôm

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 indigenous religion and Taoism. He can be referred to as Zhao Gongming (Chao Kung-ming) or Bigan (Pi-kan).[1] A large temple of Caishen has been built in the 2000s in Zhouzhi, Xi'an, Shaanxi.

Cai Shen's name is often invoked during the Chinese New Year celebrations.[1] 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.

Caishen as Jambhala, a deity in Tibetan Buddhism.

Historical personage[edit]

Several versions of Cai Shen's political affiliation and subsequent deification are circulated.[1] 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 (). 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.

In Buddhism[edit]

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. He has also entered Tibetan Buddhism in which he is worshipped as Jambhala.

Notes[edit]