Shou Lao – God of Longevity

In our cafe, you will find an unusual but beautifully carved wooden statue depicting Shou Lao, the Taoist god of longevity. Legend holds that Shou Lao began as a star in the southern constellation Argo, and he is sometimes referred to as the Old Man of the South Pole.

He was originally a mortal but became the head of the celestial department which determines a person’s lifespan. He lives in a star known as ‘Shou xing’, or Canopus in the constellation Carina and is said to visit the earth once a year. Shou xing can only, rarely, be seen in the very low sky in the Northern hemisphere. For this reason, the Chinese believed that seeing the Shou xing will bring long life and good luck.

Usually represented as an old man, bald, with a high forehead and long white beard, and carrying a staff and the peach of immortality. His beard signifies old age and his staff symbolises dignity. The peach is particularly important to the Chinese who believe that the Queen Mother of the West had an orchard whose peaches took 3000 years to bloom. The fruit gave immortality to those who ate them.

In China, he is one of the three gods known collectively as ‘Fu-Lu-Shou san xing’ (the three stellar deities of happiness, wealth and longevity), the others being Fu xing (God of Happiness) and Lu xing (God of Wealth)

Before you leave, don’t forget to rub his head so that he can grant you long life too!

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