The God of Kitchen (Zaoshen), commonly called "Gentleman Kitchen (Zaojun)", "Grandfather Kitchen (Zaoye)" or "King of Kitchen (Zaowangye)", is a God in charge of eating in China's ancient mythic legend. Common people in China regard the God of Kitchen as an important immortal and a supervisor appointed by the Emperor of Heaven to supervise virtues and vices, and contributions and debts made by the members of every family, and report to the Heaven Government periodically.
The early God of Kitchen came from people's natural worship for fire. Before the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), kitchen sacrifice had already become one of the "Seven Sacrifices" of national sacrifice ceremonies. In the Spring and Autumn Period, Confucius once told his students that the God of Kitchen would say ill of people in the Heaven if it were not well pleased.
To the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), the God of Kitchen was anthropomorphized and endowed with new functions. The God of Kitchen, therefore, has become a God to supervise mistakes made in the domain world, make reports to the Emperor of Heaven and to say ill of people. So, people make kitchen sacrifice every year. During the kitchen sacrifice, it is absolutely necessary to offer malt dusts and wines, which people regard as the offerings that could make the God of Kitchen close its mouth. People from all walks of life pay reverence to the God of Kitchen during the ceremony of kitchen sacrifice. According to related record, emperors of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911AD) would make grand kitchen sacrifices at the Palace of Earthly Tranquility, where tablets of the Heaven God and Land God would be set and emperors would kotow nine times in front of these tablets to pray for blessings of the coming year. To sacrifice the God of Kitchen is to pray affluence.
Anciently, the Figure of the God of Kitchen was usually pasted on the wall of the small wind box. The picture of the God of Kitchen, known as the Officer of the East Kitchen, which is still worshiped by people today, usually shows the figures of the God of Kitchen and his wife, who sat side by side. Beside the picture are usually corresponding couplets like "if Gods in heaven say well, the world will be peaceful". Among this sentence, the second line is sometimes replaced with "Lucks will come when returning to the palace". These sentences expressed the Chinese people's aspiration for happiness.