King Chai Pushes a Cart


Presented here is a pair of New Year pictures, both of which depict King Chai pushing a cart. This excellent work was created at Hecheng Laodian (Old Shop of Hecheng) in Zhuxian Zhen, Henan, during the Qing dynasty. The prints were made by the woodblock color-printing process, with the engraving clearly cut by an expert, and the composition full of life. The colors are fresh and beautiful and the color process precise. The colors used are the ancient green and mallow purple often seen in the New Year pictures made in Zhuxian Zhen, Henan. King Chai was Chai Rong (921‒59), also known by his temple name Shizong, the second emperor of Later Zhou (951‒60) during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907‒960). The legend—that he had pushed a cart in the streets, selling umbrellas before his success in becoming a rich man—became a folk anecdote among the people. He was called “Wealth Star” and “Living Immortal” and was immortalized as “God of Wealth.” There is a popular saying among the people that “When King Chai pushes the cart fast, silver money rolls in the house.” The figures depicted in the two pictures are almost identical. King Chai is depicted wearing a hat, with a smile on his face. He is in short clothes intended for labor. The figure in the right picture wears red pants and a green shirt, pushing a cart with a banner with characters that read: “returning home fully loaded,” while the figure in the left picture wears green pants and a red shirt, pushing a cart with a banner that reads: “earning bushels of gold each day.” The carts are full of gold and silver. The two figures are pushing their carts straight towards each other, presenting an amusing scene. New Year pictures with the theme of Chai Rong pushing a cart were mainly seen in Henan. Those made in Zhuxian Zhen are especially exquisite pieces. One such picture, held at Kaifeng Museum, has the title “Returning home fully loaded,” and was selected in 2008 as one of the stamp designs in the series of “Woodblock New Year Pictures of Zhuxian Zhen.”

Last updated: July 27, 2016