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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

財神娘娘 The Chinese Fairy of Wealth, Love and Prosperity


Celebrating the 4th day of the Lunar New Year and welcoming the God of Wealth...

The photos were taken on 13th February, which is traditionally the 4th day of the Lunar New Year and people observing the ritual of welcoming the God of Wealth. But I am in Venice this year, celebrating the Venice Carnevale with my Italian friends.

The theme for the Venice Carnevale 2024 is "Ad Oriente. The amazing journey of Marco Polo”, so many people come with chinoiserie kind of costumes. Chinoiserie is the European interpretation and imitation of Chinese and other East Asian artistic traditions, especially in the decorative arts, garden design, architecture, literature, theatre, and music.

Marco Polo (c. 1254 – 8 January 1324) was a Venetian merchant, explorer and writer who travelled through Asia along the Silk Road between 1271 and 1295. His travels are recorded in The Travels of Marco Polo (also known as Book of the Marvels of the World  and Il Milione, c. 1300), a book that described to Europeans the then-mysterious culture and inner workings of the Eastern world, including the wealth and great size of the Mongol Empire and China in the Yuan Dynasty, giving their first comprehensive look into China, Persia, India, Japan and other Asian cities and countries.

The 2024 Venice Carnival celebrates the world's most famous traveller. On the 700th anniversary of his death on 8 January 1324, Marco Polo returns to the lagoon as the main protagonist of the traditional festivities in Venice. The theme of travel is about discovery and coming face to face with the Far East, places that were only previously imagined...

Caishen (財神; lit. 'God of Wealth') is the mythological figure worshipped in the Chinese folk religion and Taoism. He has been identified with many historical figures, viewed as his embodied forms, among whom Zhao Gongming (趙公明, Wade–Giles: Chao Kung-ming; also known as Zhao Gong Yuanshuai 趙公元帥 "Lord Zhao the Marshal"), Fan Li, and Bi Gan. A large temple of Caishen has been built in the 2000s in Zhouzhi, Xi'an, Shaanxi.

Caishen's name is often invoked during the Chinese New Year celebrations. He is often depicted riding a black tiger and holding a golden rod. He may also be depicted with an iron tool capable of turning stone and iron into gold.

Legend has it that Bi Gan had a wife with the surname Chen. His son was Quan (泉). After Bi Gan was put to death by his nephew King Zhou of Shang, Bi Gan's wife and son escaped into the woods. His death eventually marked the collapse of the Shang dynasty. Later on, Quan was honoured as the ancestor of all Lins by King Wu of Zhou.

The 5th day of the Lunar New Year (14th February this year) is deemed the birthday of the Chinese God of Wealth.

This year, my friend Tiziana came in a Chinese styled costume. We decided to name her 財神娘娘, The Chinese Fairy of Wealth, Love and Prosperity.

There is otherwise no real 財神娘娘, we just made it up.

As usual, these pictures are done on the busy streets of Venice during Carnevale and using only natural lighting.

The Venice Carnevale is not all about masks. Local Italians prefer painted faces and historical costumes. They are equally beautiful to photograph.

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