The Three Stars (Fu, Lu, and Shou)
"Another group of immortals known to all lovers of Chinese art
consists of figures representing the three desires of ordinary people - Fu
(wealth), Lu (rank) and Shou (longevity). Lu is dressed in a winged hat
and belted robe of a high official and carries a jade sceptre indicating
ministerial rank. Fu . . . bears a kind of cornucopia, but wears a simpler
gown as befits a merchant. Shou . . . is identifiable by several symbols
of longevity - an extraordinarily high, bald cranium, a staff of
peachwood, a peach, a crane, and a spotted deer nuzzling up beside him.
Millions of people long for the blessings they personify, but two of these
blessings indicate how far away in spirit is the folk religion from
genuine Taoism, wealth and rank being two curses of humanity that
followers of the Way seek to avoid! Nevertheless, paintings of the
venerable Shou, Fairy of Long Life, are often very charming and he, at
least, represents a thoroughly Taoist ideal, the more so if one takes
'long life' to be a synonym for immortality, as it often is."
For a related view, refer to Ni Hua Ching's statements on Fu Luh Soh.
Image at left from Stephen Little (ed.), Taoism and the Arts of China.
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© Copyright 2003 by Joseph F. Morales