Cai Shen is the deity of wealth in Taoism and it is also one of the most popular deities in Chinese folk religion.
In China, since the society had remained for a long time on an agrarian economy, the common people’s desire for wealth was not strong at that time. However as the country developed and the government became more structured, people started to equate an official position with fortune. In the Song Dynasty, people started the tradition to receive Lu Ma (禄马) or Cai Ma (财马) during Chinese New Year, a paper craft on which images of fortune were drawn. Since then, people became more aware of the deities of wealth. In the Ming Dynasty, deity of wealth has been identified with many historical figures, viewed as his embodied forms, among whom were Bi Gan (比干) and Zhao Gong (赵公).
In He Ming Mountain, the statue of Bi Gan is made of gold phoebe nanmu located in Ci Hang temple. He represents Wen Cai Shen (文财神), a civilian deity of wealth. This deity is wearing a civil official’s robe and a minister’s cap; has a long black beard and carries an auspicious object as well as gold ingots and scrolls with messages of good fortune. His warm smile always brings a festive mood to those who see him. His images are often seen in folk paintings and sculptures and Wen Cai Shen is perceived as a character of folk religion,
Another deity of wealth is named Marshall Zhao Gong (赵公) and his statue is made of bronze located in Xuan Tan Pavilion (玄坛阁) in Dao Yuan Sheng Cheng. He is a military deity of wealth (武财神) and is being worshipped in a lot of Taoist temples. In ancient times, it was said that there were ten suns in the sky, and Zhao Gong was one of those. In those days, temperature was extremely high and people could hardly survive. Later, an archer named Hou Yi (后裔) was asked to shoot down nine suns. When the suns were down, they transformed into birds and flew to Qingcheng Mountain in Sichuan. When landed in Qingcheng, eight of them became demons and only Zhao Gong was able to become a human. He then hid in Sichuan and practiced Taoism. Later, he was hired by Celestial Master Zhang Dao Ling (张道陵) to safeguard his room for making immortal pills. When the pills were made, Zhang made Zhao Gong take it; and afterwards his appearance was quite like that of his master’s. He was then appointed with duties regarding weather (thunder, lightning, rain and wind), medication and protecting people from ill fortunes. He was also responsible for arbitration, impartial judgment and fair trade. Zhao Gong was also described as a shrewd businessman with trust, diligence and good management practice. He was also philanthropic, and he loved his country and his people. His birthday is on March 15th according to Chinese calendar.