Fu Lu Shou
|Fu Lu Shou|
|Vietnamese alphabet||Phúc Lộc Thọ|
Fu, Lu, and Shou (simplified Chinese: 福禄寿; traditional Chinese: 福祿壽; pinyin: Fú Lù Shòu) is the concept of Happiness (Fu), Prosperity (Lu), and Longevity (Shou). This concept of the Chinese traditional religion is thought to date back to the Ming Dynasty, when the Fu Star, Lu Star and Shou Star were considered to be personified deities of these attributes respectively.
The term is commonly used in Chinese culture to denote the three attributes of a good life. Statues of these three gods are found on the facades of folk religion's temples and ancestral shrines, in nearly every Chinese home and many Chinese-owned shops on small altars with a glass of water, an orange or other auspicious offerings, especially during Chinese New Year. Traditionally, they are arranged right to left (so Fu is on the right of the viewer, Lu in the middle, and Shou on the far left).
The Three Stars
The Fu star (福) refers to the planet Jupiter. In traditional astrology, the planet Jupiter was believed to be auspicious. Alternatively, according to Taoist legend in Ming Dynasty, the Fu Star is associated with Yang Cheng, a governor of Daozhou in Western Han (206 BC - 24 AD). Yang Cheng risked his life by writing a memorial to the emperor to save the people from presenting dwarf slaves as the special tribute to the imperial court. After his death, the people built a temple to commemorate him, and over time he came to be considered the personification of good fortune.
He is generally depicted in scholar's dress, holding a scroll, on which is sometimes written the character "Fu". He may also be seen holding a child, or surrounded by children.
The Lu star (禄) is ζ Ursa Majoris, or, in traditional Chinese astronomy, the sixth star in the Wenchang cluster, and like the Fu star came to be personified. The Lu star is believed to be Zhang Xian who lived during the Later Shu dynasty. The word lu specifically refers to the salary of a government official. As such, the Lu star is the star of prosperity, rank, and influence.
The Lu star was also worshipped separately from the other two as the deity dictating one's success in the Imperial Examinations, and therefore success in the imperial bureaucracy. The Lu star is usually depicted in the dress of a mandarin.
The Shou star (壽) is α Carinae (Canopus), the star of the South Pole in Chinese astronomy, and is believed to control the life spans of mortals. According to legend, he was carried in his mother's womb for ten years before being born, and was already an old man when delivered. He is recognized by his high, domed forehead and the peach which he carries as a symbol of immortality. The God of Longevity is usually shown smiling and friendly, and he may sometimes be carrying a gourd filled with Elixir of Life.
- Fukurokuju, Japanese god believed to be derived from these
- Seven Lucky Gods, analogous Japanese group of gods
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- (Chinese) 福禄寿星
- Seow, Jeffrey: Fu Lu Shou: Gods of Blessings, Prosperity and Longevity, Singapore, 1999.