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LEXICON

 

 

Cai Shen (财神)

Chinese. ‘Wealth god’, ‘money spirit’ or ‘mammon’. There are numerous distinct Chinese wealth gods, differentiating between formal and informal, as well as civilian and military wealth deities, with the most influential and popular one being the military god Zhao Gong Ming (fig.). Among the civilian wealth deities are Fan Li and Bi Gan (fig.), while another warrior god of wealth is Kuan U. The informal wealth gods include Wu Lu Cai Shen; the Smiling Buddha who is also known as Budai; Fu, one of the Three Star Gods; Li Shi Xian Guan; Liu Hai, the god associated with the three-legged Lucky Money Toad Chanchu, etc. Sometimes transcribed Tsai Shen or Chai Shen. Chinese wealth gods are typically portrayed in royal dress, usually holding attributes related to riches and power, such as Chinese gold ingots (fig.), a ruyi (fig.), fang kong qian coins (fig.), a banner with a promotional wealth text, etc. In Thai-Tae Chew known as Chai Sing, and he may sometimes be called Tsai Shen Yeh (fig.) or Cai Shen Ye (fig.). In Vietnam, he is called Than Tai (fig.) and typically one of two deities placed in small Vietnamese home altars, the other deity being Tu Di Gong, the Chinese Lord of the Soil and the Ground, who in Vietnamese is known as Tho Cong (fig.), among several other names. See also Jambhala and mongoose.