Zhong Kui was a folk god,a decent honorable chap good for guarding doors and hunting ghosts; a deformed or ugly figure, given to standing fiercely on one leg, known to suck the eyes out of a demon, so popular he gradually worked his way into the formal pantheon….
“The God of Wealth in His Civil Aspect” once belonged appropriately, to the late John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who bequethed it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Along with a companion piece of fiercer mien, “The God of Wealth in His Military Aspect,” it is an outstanding example of Chinese porcelain of the K’ang Hsi period ( 1662-1722) . The 23-inch figurines are in five colors of enamel, the throne and crown are gilded silver, and the holes are for inserting a beard of human hair. Their exact identity has always remained a bit elusive and ambiguous, but they may hold important clues in America’s contentious trade relations with China ….
The ancient God of Wealth and Riches and could ride a black tiger and hurl pearls that burst like bombshells.Talk about a teen idol.He was the ticket from rickshaw to Rolls-Royce. A gentleman of many strengths and only one flaw: He was susceptible to witches, evil spirits,voodoo, the influence of ghosts and other vagaries of the paranormal. He needed protection. Its a lot on the shoulders of Zhong Kui. Hunting demons with pen and sword.He is a very violent a terrifying writer. Not a sleuth with the most appealing creature features, he is the unseen shadowy figure of whom the fortunes and prosperity of China are perched on his slouched back and dangle from his scraggly mustache; the first line of defense. He was formerly just another tall ghost with a shabby hat who ate devils. The Emperor adored the protection, but wouldn’t give him a promotion because he abhorred his ugly appearance.
…The oriental dragon is usually a beneficent creature which brings rain to the crops; it cannot be compared to the gruesome medieval monster so often portrayed with St. George. The dragon was the emblem of the emperor, just as the feang huang was the symbol of the empress. When they appear together, as on the clothes of the older figure, they are a sign of good omen. …
Who are these figurines working for and how can America use these gods of wealth to right its financial ship? …Sometimes the Chinese artist uses symbolic creatures or plants individually, but more often symbols are combined to enhance the significance of the object decorated, a technique we find in the ornamentation of a pair of K’ang-hsi figurines in the Met that are outstanding among the porcelains in the Rockefeller bequest. No others exactly like them are known. Each figure, seated on a gilded silver throne, represents a man-one grimacing fiercely, the other more youthful and milder in expression. Both are clad in ceremonial regalia and wear elaborate, crownlike official hats “Sha-mao” made of gilded silver filigree adorned with kingfisher feathers, jade, and pearls. In the decoration of their clothing symbols of power and good omen occur repeatedly: the dragon, which ranks highest in thehierarchy of Chinese emblems, appears on the robes of both pieces; the feng huang ,sometimes known as the oriental phoenix, decorates the shoulder cape of the older man; and the crane, a bird second in power only to the feng huang, decorates the overskirts of both.
The decoration of the figures’ thrones and crowns, on which both the feng huang and the dragon appear, carries further the theme of
power: dragon’s heads occur on the armrests, while the legs of the thrones are made up of a lion’s head and paw. The Chinese did not know much about lions in early times, and it was not until the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) and later that the winged lion of the Near East and the Buddhist lion of India were introduced into Chinese art as the protectors of sacred buildings and defenders of the law.
E.T.C WERNER ( 1922 ):When Chiang Tzŭ-ya was fighting for Wu Wang of the Chou dynasty against the last of the Shang emperors, Chao Kung-ming, then a hermit on Mount Ô-mei, took the part of the latter. He performed many wonderful feats. He could ride a black tiger and hurl pearls which burst like bombshells. But he was eventually overcome by the form of witchcraft known in Wales as Ciurp Creadh. Chiang Tzŭ-ya made a straw image of him, wrote his name on it, burned incense and worshipped before it for twenty days, and on the twenty-first shot arrows made of peach-wood into its eyes and heart. At that same moment Kung-ming, then in the enemy’s camp, felt ill and fainted, and uttering a cry gave up the ghost.
Later on Chiang Tzŭ-ya persuaded Yüan-shih T’ien-tsun to release from the Otherworld the spirits of the heroes who had died in battle, and when Chao Kung-ming was led into his presence he praised his bravery, deplored the circumstances of his death, and canonized him as President of the Ministry of Riches and Prosperity.
The God of Riches is universally worshipped in China; images and portraits of him are to be seen everywhere. Talismans, trees of which the branches are strings of cash, and the fruits ingots of gold, to be obtained merely by shaking them down, a magic inexhaustible casket full of gold and silver—these and other spiritual sources of wealth are associated with this much-adored deity. He himself is represented in the guise of a visitor accompanied by a crowd of attendants laden with all the treasures that the hearts of men, women, and children could desire.
…”By comparison, our reality is impoverished. Our rationality, the mark of the scholar, brings vast power over the material world, but banishes the very notion of ghosts and demons. We have no need of a snarling face on the back of the door, no call for a companion wielding an axe in our troubled dreams.”