The Kitchen God (Zao Jun)

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This imposingly large and richly colored piece of ceramic art is Zao Jun, The Kitchen God.

Zao Jun is among the oldest household deities in the pantheon of Chinese tradition, dating from 133 B.C. He is considered to be the link between man and God, his role being protector of the wellbeing of the household and observer of family behavior. Also known as Stove God, his role extends to guarding against kitchen misfortunes and, equally important, to enhancing the nutrition and deliciousness of food.

For millennia, every Chinese household and restaurant kitchen exhibited a Kitchen God in the form of a statue, wood plaque, or picture that was placed above the fireplace or stove. Offerings were regularly made to these representations as recompense for wrong doings and as supplication for good fortune.

However, if you were to search for a Kitchen God in China over the past few years, you would realize that they are very hard to come by in modern times. When American Jennifer Thomas lived in Hong Kong, she searched high and low throughout China for a representation of Zao Jun and came up empty-handed. So she took things into her own hands, found a ceramic company in Guangzhou that still had molds for kitchen gods, and talked them into making some. 

This hand-painted beauty stands about 10 inches tall and 5 inches wide. It is the perfect centerpiece for a kitchen altar, where offerings of fruit and wine are meant to sweeten the Kitchen God's words when he reports back to the supreme spiritual being, the Jade Emperor. A good report on the family’s achievements that year augers blessings, just as a poor report portends punishment. (We buck tradition and keep ours in the center of our round dining table, where he faces my daughter and keeps her in line.)

The most auspicious time for making an offering is the 23rd day of the last month of the year (in northern China) and on the 24th day (in southern China), one week before the Chinese Lunar New Year. These dates are known as the Kitchen God Day. This Kitchen God comes with a written history and instructions for setting up and using your altar. 

Details: Hand-painted porcelain ceramic, 10 inches tall by 5 inches wide

Shipping: Please note that this item must be ordered separately from all other Mala Market items as its own order due to different shipping procedures.