Sanxing (deities)

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This article is about Chinese deities. For the 2015 film, see God of Happiness (film).
Sanxing
Sanxing at Chinese temple in Bangkok.jpg
Shou, Lu, and Fu gods at a Chinese folk religious temple in Thailand.
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 福祿壽
Simplified Chinese 福禄寿
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabet Phúc Lộc Thọ

The Sanxing (三星 "Three Stars"), who are Fu, Lu, and Shou (simplified Chinese: 寿; traditional Chinese: 祿; pinyin: Fú Lù Shòu), or Cai, Zi and Shou (財子壽), are the gods of the three stars and the three qualities of Prosperity (Fu), Status (Lu), and Longevity (Shou) in Chinese religion. These icons are thought to date back to the Ming dynasty,[1] when the gods of the three stars were represented in human form for the first time. They are sometimes identified with other deities of the Chinese religion or of Taoism.

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 Shou is on the left of the viewer, Lu in the middle, and Fu on the far right), just as Chinese characters are traditionally written from right to left.

The three gods, their stars and their attributes[edit]

Fuxing, Luxing, and Shouxing at a Benzhu temple at the Jinsuo Island in Dali, Yunnan.

Fuxing[edit]

The star of Fu (福), Fuxing 福星, refers to the planet Jupiter. In traditional astrology, the planet Jupiter was believed to be auspicious. Alternatively, according to a Taoist myth of the 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. He is sometimes conflated with Caishen, the "Wealth God".

Luxing[edit]

The star of Lu (禄), Luxing 禄星, 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.

Shouxing[edit]

The star of Shou (壽), Shouxing 寿星, 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 longevity god is usually shown smiling and friendly, and he may sometimes be carrying a gourd filled with the elixir of life. He is sometimes conflated with Laozi and corresponding gods of Taoist theology.

Gallery[edit]

Fu, Lu and Shou statues on the roof of Ling San Temple, a Chinese folk religion's temple in Turan, Sabah, Malaysia 
A street altar with Fu, Lu and Shou statues during Chinese New Year 2015 in Paris, France 
This shrine to a Master Yong in a Yangxin County village, Hubei features a tablet, high in the facade, saying "The Three Stars are Present". The symbol at the top of the facade is a stylised derivation of the character shou , "longevity" 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ (Chinese) 福禄寿星. British Taoist Association.
  • Seow, Jeffrey. Fu Lu Shou: Gods of Blessings, Prosperity and Longevity, Singapore, 1999.