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 of 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
This is a traditional Chinese New Year’s painting with the Money God sitting in the centre.
In front of him is a civil official at the left and a military officer at the right, the 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 maintenance.
Traditional Chinese culture regards that the ideal human world should be modelled based on the celestial world in a higher spatial dimension. Once the human world evolves to be like the celestial world, that will become heaven on earth.
From the viewpoint of traditional Chinese cosmology, the universe is a recycling factory in which celestial beings are elevated from the 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 life on Earth was even much harder than in the Trisolaran world in a faraway 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 suns fallen from heavenly grace.
While his eight grunge brothers fell straight down to a yin world of the ghost, his positive attitude enabled him to enter the yang world of humans and resettled in China’s Sichuan province.
The man was determined to rise up to heaven again, so he went to Mt Zhongnan to study the magical art of war and 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 Shang 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 the highly developed commercial dynasty Ming, his expertise was recognized by people in China and he was recruited as a business consultant with his paper-thin office set up on every front door of 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 Mr Zhao with three fairy boys representing three fortunes: Happiness, Wealth and Longevity.
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 to 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
When a family’s happiness is concerned, nothing can compare to the joy of a couple to raise high achiever kids, a mentality that still shares widely in today’s China.