He is a deity of childbearing, but only of the male variety. The birth of male children was traditionally of prime importance to Chinese families. Boys grew up to become men. Girls were just girls — nice to have around, but only so long as there were plenty of boys to make the money and work the farms.
Zhang Xian became the top God to turn to for suitable offspring. He was constantly in demand for supplying as many male children as possible.
Now times have changed — more or less — and female babies are generally regarded as equally beneficial. So at some point Zhang Xian took on extra staff and began offering a unisex service. His son Jiantan helps with the bouncing baby boys and daughter Songzi Niangniang looks after the baby girls.
As a deity of protection, Zhang Xian does everything he can to protect his offspring from Tiangou, the dreaded sun-eating Celestial Dog God. He is usually depicted firing an arrow in the direction of this fearsome enemy, hence his nickname The Archer.
Zhang Xian Facts and Figures
Name: Zhang Xian
Pronunciation: Jharng Shee-yen
Alternative names: Chang-Shien
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present
In charge of: Birth
Area of expertise: Childbirth
Good/Evil Rating: NEUTRAL, may not care
Popularity index: 1500
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Article last revised on April 21, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders
References: Coming soon.