Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Guan Yu

You might notice that whenever I post one of the 36 Strategies, I tend to use a variation of the image of the guy I'm using for this post. Who is he?

He is Guan Yu, the Chinese God of War. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the entry from about Guan Yu. Below, I've also copied an entry from

Guan Yu was a real person who was one of the main figures in during the Three Kingdoms Period. While his actual historic deeds are forever entwined with those attributed to him, we can safely say that he was regarded as a paragon of martial virtue, and eventually became regarded as a god.

The last time I was in San Francisco, in Chinatown, I passed by a temple dedicated to Guan Yu.

The following is copied from
by Micha F. Lindemans

"Emperor Guan", the Taoist god of war. He opposes all disturbers of the peace. He is charged with the task of guarding the realm against all external enemies, as well as internal rebels. He was also called upon during spiritualist seances to provide information about people who had died, prophecies concerning the future, and knowledge about divine recompense or retaliation for good and evil deeds. Guan-di was also revered as a god of literature since he supposedly memorized one of the classics of Confucianism, and as patron of bean-curd sellers. His immense popularity rests particularly on his supposed power over demons and evil spirits, and his ability to prevent war.

The war-god is a historical personality, the bean-curd seller Zhang (162-220 CE). He changed his name into Guan and became a renowned adventurer and general. As general Guan Yu he served under the founder of one of the three realms. In 220 CE he was executed on the orders of a hostile ruler. His cult is of relatively recent origin and was strongly influenced by Buddhist ideas. His veneration began somewhere around the 7th century CE, and even spread to Korea. In 1594 he was canonized by a Ming Dynasty emperor as god of war and protector of China and its people, and was accorded the title of Great Just Emperor Who Assists Heaven and Protects the State in the 16th century and was admitted to the Taoist pantheon. The title of Military Emperor was bestowed upon him in the 19th century by the then emperor of China who elevated him to the level of Confucius.

Guan-di was also worshipped as the protector of state officials who accorded him special veneration. The government sponsored the building of thousands of temples throughout the realm. In those temples the swords of public executioners were housed. Imperial official made offerings to him on the thirteenth day of the first and fifth month of each year; a practice that continued until the end of the Chinese empire in 1911.

Guan-di is portrayed as a nine-foot tall giant with a two-foot-long beard, a scarlet face, the eyes of a phoenix and eyebrows of silkworms. He is frequently shown standing beside his horse, wearing full armor and carrying a halberd. Alternatively he is portrayed as a military mandarin, sitting unarmed and stroking his beard with one hand and holding the Chun-qiu (the Spring and the Autumn Annals, one of the classic Confucianist works) in his other hand.

In popular belief he is known primarily for casting out demons and people call him Fu-mo da-di, the Great Ruler Who Banishes Demons. His festival is May 13.

1 comment:

shyloh's poetry said...

Very interesting. I love reading things like this.

In popular belief he is known primarily for casting out demons and people call him Fu-mo da-di, the Great Ruler Who Banishes Demons. His festival is May 13.

posted by Rick at 6:42 AM on Dec 22

He cast out demons, and I tame the wildest of beasts. Him and I would get along great! ha.