When you go to a Chinese restaurant, you can always find a statue of some god and people have been asking me who he is. Today we are going to talk about God of Wealth 财神. God of Wealth is worshiped in the folk religion and also from Taoism. Who is he? Actually there are so many versions of god of wealth and mostly identified with historical figures and the most well-known are five: WangHai王亥，BiGan 比干，FanLi范蠡, GuanGong 关公 and ZhaoGongming 赵公明. Among them, WangHai is called ZhongBing God of Wealh中斌财 神, who is in charge of the wealth of people after 60 years old so he is in charge of your retirement life. BiGan and FanLi are regarded as the civil gods of wealth while GuanGong and ZhaoGonming are regarded as the military gods of wealth. So for people who work in the fields with paperwork in the offices would worship the civil gods of wealth and people who work in the field of army, business would worship the military gods of wealth. These four gods are all in charge of wealth of people after 30 years. So apparently there are more gods in charge of wealth of people before 30 years old. I think Taoism really has a complex system of gods.
We will mainly talk about ZhaoGongming. In the book SanJiaoSouShenDaQuan三教搜神大全, it says the General ZhaoGongming is from the place Zhongnaishan钟南山. Since Qin Dynasty 秦朝, he had been cultivated Tao in the mountains and well accomplished. He then was assigned as the General Shenxiao神霄副元帅. Riding a tiger, he wears an iron cap and holds a iron wipe. His face is dark and has a lot of beard. He can control thunders and lightening and command rains and winds and diminish diseases. Pretty powerful right? In the book Investiture of the Gods封神演义, it says ZhaoGongming was assigned to in charge of all of money in the world.
Since the Ming Dynasty 明朝, Chinese have the tradition to welcome or worship the god of wealth on the fifth day of the new year in Lunar calendar as part of Chinese new year celebration because it is the God of Wealth’s birthday. It is kind of like the idea of Christmas I guess. People would prepare food and sacrifice at home or in shops to welcome God of Wealth to come to them. In the statue or paintings of the god of wealth today you can always see him carrying a ingot 元宝 or some coins.
封神演义 Investiture of the Gods