Zao Shen is a Chinese kitchen God.
Supernatural AppearanceShen was one of the many gods who came to the fake hotel set to trap Sam and Dean to discuss the coming apocalypse. He does get in a fight with Odin about Odin teasing his world turtle. He is the one who finds Sam and Dean attempting to free the captured humans and groups Sam. He was killed by Dean using a wooden stake.
Though there are many stories on how Zao Jun became the Kitchen God, the most popular dates back to around the 2nd Century BC. Zao Jun was originally a mortal man living on earth whose name was Zhang Lang. He eventually became married to a virtuous woman, but ended up falling in love with a younger woman. He left his wife to be with this younger woman and, as punishment for this adulterous act, the heavens afflicted him with ill-fortune. He became blind, and his young lover abandoned him, leaving him to resort to begging to support himself.
One day, while begging for alms, he happened across the house of his former wife. Being blind, he did not recognize her. Despite his shoddy treatment of her, she took pity on him, and invited him in. She cooked him a fabulous meal and tended to him lovingly; he then related his story to her. As he shared his story, Zhang Lang became overwhelmed with self-pity and the pain of his error and began to weep. Upon hearing him apologize, Zhang's former wife told him to open his eyes and his vision was restored. Recognizing the wife he had abandoned, Zhang felt such shame that he threw himself into the kitchen hearth, not realizing that it was lit. His former wife attempted to save him, but all she managed to salvage was one of his legs.
The devoted woman then created a shrine to her former husband above the fireplace, which began Zao Jun's association with the stove in Chinese homes. To this day, a fire poker is sometimes referred to as "Zhang Lang's Leg".
Alternatively, there is another tale where Zao Jun was a man so poor he was forced to sell his wife. Years later he unwittingly became a servant in the house of her new husband. Taking pity on him she baked him some cakes into which she had hidden money, but he failed to notice this and sold the cakes for a pittance. When he realized what he had done he took his own life in despair. In both stories Heaven takes pity on Zhang Lang's tragic story. Instead of becoming a vampirish Hopping corpse, the usual fate of suicides, he was made the god of the Kitchen, and was reunited with his wife.
The origin of the Kitchen God has different stories behind it just as any historical cultural tradition may. Another possible story of the "Stove God" is believed to have appeared soon after the invention of the brick stove. The Kitchen God was originally believed to have resided in the stove and only later took on human form. During the Han Dynasty, it is believed that a poor farmer named Yin Zifang, was surprised by the Kitchen God who appeared on Lunar New Year as he was cooking his breakfast. Yin Zifang decided to sacrifice his only yellow sheep for the Kitchen God. In doing so, he became rich and decided that every winter he would sacrifice one yellow sheep in order to display his deep gratitude for the Kitchen God.
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