This is an ukiyo-e print depicting a courtesan of Yoshiwara playing a game of go (published 1910s)
In the Edo period, the Yoshiwara area (now the modern Asakusa of Tokyo) was the only district of pleasure that was licensed. Unlike other red light districts in the world, courtesans are trained to be cultured, to be the ideal companion; waka poetry, the game of go, chess, playing cards, calligraphy, ikebana, tea ceremony, incense ceremony and other things.
This new year print is normally found in the village schools for the worship of Confucius.
Confucius is sitting in the middle holding a gui, an element of statue. On the two sides are the 4 sages, notable Confuciusm figures; Yan Hui (顏回), Zi Si (子思), Zeng Zi (曾子) and Mencius (孟子). Apart from Mencius, the other 3 are the favorite student of Confucius. Mencius was born about 100 years after the death of Confucius and was a student of Confucius’s grandson. Mencius was expanding Confucius’s philosophy.
As in the wood block print, the 4 sages are normally seen along side with Confucius in the temples of Confucius.
There is a believe that there are gods living in the mountain, the woods and the streams; to ensure a safe journey, one would worship these gods before entering the mountain or travelling by boat.
In this wood block print, on the right is the mountain god, on the left his wife, around them their guards and maids.
A Taoist wood block print entitled “Heaven Earth Dragon Carriage”.
On the left of the print is Yuan Shi Tian Zun, the supreme Taoist deity, together with Tai Shang Lao Jun and Ling Boa Tian Zun formed the 3 Pure Ones. On the right of the print is the Jade Emperor, the God who creates the system of nature and the universe. Jade Emperor sits inside his dragon carriage and around them the 4 guards; Wang Ling Tian Jun, Pu Hua Tian Jun, General Li, Marshal Zhao. This new year print is used to bless of journey in vehicles, it is also used on the wedding day after the bride was picked up by the groom’s car, the couple would need to thank the gods for providing a safe journey.
It is believed that Tai Shang Lao Jun is the spiritualization of Lao Zi, the founder of Taoism. He is one of the Three Pure Ones, together with Yuan Shi Tian Zun and Ling Boa Tian Zun, they formed the Taoist trinity forms the fundamental of Taoism. Tai Shang Lao Jun is the body of Taoism, the origin of Chi (the heaven and the earth), the nature system and order.
A limited comtempory Japanese wood block print by the artist Masaya, entitled the New Green.
Today, the fifth day of the Chinese New Year, is the day to welcome God of Wealth. Traditionally, early in the day one will heard drums and gongs, fire crackers from the shops as well as a fest of food to invite the God of Wealth for visit, some might even go through the trouble of welcoming him early in the night so to make sure he will not be going anywhere else.
On this new year print there are 2 Gods of Wealth, one academic and one martial. The god of wealth is a title, it is not attributed to a single saint but a handful of saints. The Academic God of Wealth has the task of delivering wealth and commonly refers to Fan Li and Bi Gan, both a loyal and wealth character who helps out with country and the poor. The Martial God of Wealth is responsible for safe guarding the wealth, they are General Zhao Gong Ming and General Guan Yu, both legendary fighters.
See our other God of Wealth.
Once again, its the time of the year to thank the Kitchen God.
It is believed that at the beginning of every Chinese New Year, on lunar January 4th, the Jade Emperor will sent the Kitchen God to monitor the activities of each household (a bit like the NSA, I guess) and at the end of the year, lunar December 24th, the Kitchen God will depart to make his annual report back to the Jade Emperor. To thank his for a year’s hard work, before his departure a special meal will be prepared for him.
If you still havent prepare the farewell dinner, hurry up before he leaves!
See our other Kitchen God pints.
Wishing you a happy 2014!
This is a Yang Liu Qing print on the subject of “Searching for Plum Blossoms in the Snow”. The phrase is generally used to described scholars appreciation and effort with poety. The old man on the donkey is Meng Hao Ran, a Tang dynasty poety; he is known to have gotten his inspiration from ploughing through the snow on the Ba Qiao Bridge in Xian.