Money God in Chinese New Year’s Painting

Chinese New Year’s Paintings are typically used to decorate the internal walls at the beginning of each new lunar year.

The themes of New Year’s Painting are often closely associated with Chinese people’s common aspirations and unique language.

For instance, a bat (蝠) represents fortune (福), a fan (扇) indicates kindness (善), a spear (戟) is a symbol for luck (吉) and a musical stone (磬) stands for celebration (庆), as they share the same pronunciation in Chinese.

Money God: the Main Theme of Traditional Chinese New Year’s Painting

Money God

Money God

This is a traditional Chinese New Year’s painting with the Money God sitting in the centre.

In front of him are a civil official at the left and a military officer at the right, same as they would be positioned before an earthly throne in ancient China. Behind him holding decorative fans are two Taoist boys – in a classic Chinese court, the task would be carried out by palace maintains.

Traditional Chinese culture regards that the ideal human world should be modeled based on the celestial world in a higher spatial dimension. Once the human world evolves to be like the celestial world, that will become the heaven on earth.

From the viewpoint of the traditional Chinese cosmology, the universe is a recycle factory in which celestial beings are elevated from human domain and may one day fall back on earth or even below if their fortune runs out.

So there it is. According to Chinese mythology, the Money God was initially a human, and a Chinese man called Zhao Gongming (赵公明). But before he was transformed (yes, he was transformed not reincarnated) into Mr Zhao, he was one of ten mighty suns in our solar system.

By then the life on Earth was even much harder than in the Trisolaran world in a far away galaxy, so Yi (羿), the great Chinese archer, shot down nine out of the ten, and Mr Zhao’s former self was one of the sun fallen from heavenly grace.

While his eight grunge brothers fell straight down to a yin world of ghost, his positive attitude enabled him to enter the yang world of humans and resettled in China’s Sichuan province.

The man determined to rise up to heaven again, so he went to Mt Zhongnan to study magical art of war then returned to the mundane world to participate in the big social transformation from a profit-driven Shang era to a culture-oriented Zhou era. But he picked the wrong side and he stood by the backward commercial Shanghai against the progressive cultural Zhou.

He died in the middle of his endeavour to save the old commercial order but was allowed to reclaim his position in heaven as a business development and fair trading expert.

Yet it was until 3,000 years later during a highly developed commercial dynasty Ming, his expertise was recognised by people in China and he was recruited as a business consultant with his paper-thin office set up on every front door of the shops, banks and craft stores, even private residences.

More Traditional Chinese New Year’s Painting with Money God

Money God with Three Fortunes

Money God with Three Fortunes

Money God Mr Zhao with three fairy boys representing three fortunes: Happiness, Wealth and Longevity.

Four Generations under One Roof

Four Generations under One Roof

Among the three major blessings in a man’s life, Happiness (福) traditionally ranks the top ahead of wealth (禄) and longevity (寿).

Of all aspects related with happiness, a big and harmonious family was the core theme, which was in line with a collective pursuit of population growth.

Five Sons Are All High Achievers

Five Sons Are All High Achievers

When a family’s happiness is concerned, nothing can compare to the joy for a couple to raise high achiever kids, a mentality that still share widely in today’s China.

2 comments

  • Yuko

    Fascinating Chinese colorful arts to celebrate Chinese new year. I feel it was universal that many cultures traditionally look up to something greater than ourselves and worship it. It is sad that we’re quickly losing this tradition due to the materialism that are controlling our lives now.

    Chinese zodiacs are represented by 12 animals, correct? I believe this year is the year of fire Monkey. Can you explain the characteristics of those who were born in the year of monkey?

    Yuko

    • Awen

      Hi Yuko, you are correct, this year is Fire Monkey year. It is said that people born in a certain zodiac year could share some common traits that are found in the animal representing the zodiac, very much like how star signs work.

      On the positive side, a person born in a monkey year could be quite intelligent, proactive and confident, while the negative attributes may include having a short attention span, lack of focus or over self-indulgent.

      However, this kind of generalisation of personality according to the year or the month a person was born plays little role in more sophisticated Chinese “astrology” or “fortune telling” systems. For instance, no matter in “Eight Characters”, “Purple Start” or “Six Lines”, the most important factor that affects a person’s “predetermined” personality and life path is not the year, not even the month, but the day, as the constellation alignment alters daily.

      Further, a “predetermined” personality or life path can and will change if a person acts out of character, i.e. out of his usual habit.

      That is why for a person who dares to step out of his own comfort zone and do things differently but more desirably, no “astrology” or “fortune telling” can ever predict his future, because he is in control of his own destiny.

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