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!
A new year wood block print of the God of Wealth, Zhou Gong Ming. It is believed that Zhou was born in humble family in the Qing dynasty. As a young he worked as a labourer for a wood merchant, being honest, generous and hard working he was popular. Soon he was able to start his own wood business and accumulated a good deal of wealth. Zhou would lend money to those who need them; one merchant borrowed some money and made a lost at a natural disaster, Zhou only asked him to return a pair of chopstick for the money owned. At time of war, Zhou used his own money to fund an army in support of his country and headed the army himself. He bravery was well known and even tamed a troubled tiger as a pet. In most of the God of wealth icon, this black tiger is at his company, here you can see it half hidden inside his coat. Because of his generosity and bravery he was worshipped after his death and named the God of Wealth.
Click here to see our other items of the God of Wealth and the mystical version of his life.
This Yang Liu Qing print is about the story “Wenji Reurning to Han”.
Wenji, was the daughter of the scholar Cai Yong, equally well learnt she was tributed to have revived some important ancient literature that was lost during the war. Wenji though has a rather tough life; her first husband Wei passed away and during the war she was kidnapped by the Huns tribe and made to be the queen of the Hun king. The king treated her well, they had children and soon Wenji though missing home was well settled in Hun.
Meanwhile her father Cai Yong was jailed and died for his support of a declined politician. The story would have ended here if emperor Cao Cao has not suddenly missed his friend Cai Yong and thought of his daughter. Emperor Cao requested for her return to Han, though unwilling the Hun king dared not disobey and reluctantly send the mother of his child home to Han. Feeling the sorrow as she departed her Hun family, Wenji wrote the poem “Eighteen Stanzas for a Barbarian Reed Leaf Pipe”
Happy to see her, Emperor Cao Cao felt bad that she is all alone and without a family so he arranged for her to be wedded to an official named Dong. Unfortunately, Dong committed some crime and received a death sentence. Wenji fearing she will lose yet another husband went to see Cao Cao and begged for his pardon. Moved by her action, Cao Cao ordered for Dong’s release and chatted with her about her father’s literature. Wenji told him that all the 4000 odd books were destroyed during the war but she could still recite 400 out of the 4000. Cao Cao was excited to record the lost literature and Wenji wrote them down word for word.
Click here to see our other Yang Liu Qing prints.
This is a black and white line print from the Yang Jia Bu school of new year print. The Yang Jia Bu school is set in a small village in the Shan Dong province, it is most flourished in the Qing dynasty. The school is famous for the subject matter of the prints, new subjects are added yearly with reflection to the society and as time goes by became a source of documented life of the commons.
The two phrases on the print, “花能解語 晚玉生香” has been quoted in a few of the notable Chinese literature, The Romance of The West Chamber, Water Margin, The Golden Lotus and The Dream of the Red Chamber. The phrase were praises to a woman; a woman can be as beautiful as a flower but the flower cannot understand words, a woman can be as beautiful as a piece of jade but jade is without fragrance.
The title of this wood block print is called “Buddha of the West Sky”, referring to Siddhattha Gotama of India. The idea of the West Sky is complex, in the early days the sun is believed to be a godly object; raising from the east, watching us on the day and going away and setting on the west. It is believed that while we sleeping the sun will be watching over in the west sky. With Buddhism introduced to China from India, a country to the south west, India, the West Sky, is the place where the truth, the important scripts are. Monks, notably Xuanzang (depicted in the novel the Monkey King), went to India to find enlightenment. The West Sky symbolizes a cleansed soul and mind, a nirvana world.
This old Yang Liu Qing print, depicted a scene from a Tang dynasty poem, 商山早行 Morning Journey At Shang Shan.
After a restless night thinking of my home town, I woke up with the hurrying bells of the inn.
The rooster crow at the frailing moon, on the frost cover bridge left the footprints of the travelers.
The down hill road is covered by wilting plants, orange flower shines out on the inn wall.
Seeing the sunrise, I thought of my dreams of ansers returning to the pond, maybe too I can see my family soon.
The people on the print, however, described another story;
I ride a donkey and look up to those who ride a horse, but looking at the cart pusher I feel content.