You may have seen these three before in homes, offices, Asian restaurant, Buddhist or Taoist Temple. These statues are often used for Feng Shui purposes to honor the “gods” and to bring blessings. The trio is referred to as Fuk Luk Shau, or Fu Lu Sau, which loosely translates to the Three Lucky Immortals or Three Star Gods. They are considered in the common household as the patrons of health, wealth and prosperity.
According to the legends, Fu Xing (Star) is believed to be Yang Cheng, a governor of Daozhou, who wrote a treatise to the Emperor to end the suffering of the people through improvement of agriculture. After his death, he was commemorated as the patron of prosperity, good fortune, wealth, blessings, and happiness as he helped bring about a time of abundance to the citizens. The term prosperity not only refers to material wealth, but is a word that includes good relationships, happy family, peace, love and overall good fortune. He is typically depicted carrying a scepter or scroll.
Lu Xing was thought to be Zhang Xian, a government official of the Later Shu Dynasty. Lu translates to “government salary”, and in the imperial days of China, having an appointed civil service position was considered highly prestigious, brought great honor to the family, and was the surest path to success and wealth. Based on tales, Zhang Xian was a government official who brought much fortune and happiness to the people of Shu, which was believed due to his deep loving relationship with Lady Huarui. After being conquered, Zhang Xian mysteriously died, and the new Emperor Ren Zong took Lady Huarui as his concubine. Even after his death, Lady Huarui still prayed to the late Zhang Xian for a son. Legend has it Zhang Xian came to the Emperor in a dream and showed the Emperor he had the power to bestow a son upon anyone who prayed to him, as this was vitally important for the Emperor to have a worthy male successor. Not only did the Emperor accept Lady Huarui’s behavior, he decreed Zhang Xian as the patron “god” for granting a son. He’s considered the patron god for wealth as because in the imperial times, only males were able to hold civil service titles, and therefore were the only ones who had chance to bring wealth to the family. He’s often represented with a gold ingot or with a baby boy.
Shau Xing has a very peculiar legend! He was believed to be a Taoist immortal who stayed in his mother’s womb for 10 years before being born a fully mature old man! As the story goes the Emperor of the Northern Song dynasty had randomly invited this old man he met on the street to visit with him. Once the emperor realized who his guest was, he knew he was blessed with longevity. Little else is written about the mysterious Shau Xing. You can always tell who Shau Xing is because of his prolonged forehead and can be seen carrying a Peach of Immortality or a gourd with the Elixir of life, and his deer staff.
Whether the legends are true or not, they offer themselves as symbols for the things we strive towards. An often misunderstood notion, deities and ancestors weren’t meant to be worshiped, but rather honoring them and what they represent serves as a reflection of the self. It’s not always easy to see the good in ourselves, but if we can see the good, let’s say symbolically on a statue long enough, the idea is sooner or later we become it! In modern day society we have the term Law of Attraction. A universal principle that simply says you will draw to yourself that which you think about the most.
Alas! We find East meets West once again!
Dan Luong (aka "Tea Man Dan")