It is time for legends again. Today it is turn to speak about one legendary, brave and very famous person. It is Guan Yu. Today he is most famous as god of war,  loyalty, bravery, strength and guardian of property. He is idol for many brave people. He is worshipped widely in China. In China after Guanyin, Mi La Fo and Jade Emperor he is most popular deity widely worshipped in folk tradition, Taoism and Buddhism. He is often found in Taoist temples, rarely in Buddhist temples and often in home shrines of population which is devoted to Taoism or Buddhism. Often he is set in front of other deities in shrine as a symbol of protection and guardianship of other deities. In Chinese restaurants worldwide, in offices of companies across China ,in hotels in China, in Chinese shops there are bigger or smaller shrines there is his statue as most important one especially near entrance door of the place. It is with purpose to scare evil spirits and  energetically protect property from robbery. In history he was often worshipped as guardians by secret societies related to martial arts, by robbers. Today he is often worshipped by Chinese mafia and police as well. In Hong Kong some police stations have small shrines with his figure. He is often important hero in video games, cartoons, comics, tv series and movies.

In one hotel where I stayed in Beijing in 2015,
in a restaurant
in a restaurant in Beijing

Guan Yu was a real person without superhuman abilities. But because his ethics, bravery, martial skills, strength and honesty he was consecrated as a deity few centuries later. He lived between cca 160 and 220CE. He was born during Han dynasty period a dynasty which ruled China between 206BC to 220CE. It was one of most prosperous Chinese dynasties thanks to Silk Road, large trade and cultural exchange between China and other countries, territorial expansion, development of Taoism, arrival of Buddhism, big technological, astronomic and medicine discoveries. Therefore it is considered as first golden age of Chinese civilization. However in during 2nd century prosperity started to decline because of too high taxes, oppressive emperors or regents, famines, corruption and nepotism. When in 189 greedy general and chancellor Cao Cao took primary power in court and controlled Emperor Xian regional governors became even more angry. They declared autonomy and rebellion against imperial court. One basis of power was formed in todays Sichuan what later became Shu Han state governed by king Liu Bei. In east there was another basis created with Sun Quan as head what later became Dong Wu. Guan Yu didn’t want unjust centralization in corrupt court with puppet emperor and joined Liu Bei. He swore there on infinite loyalty to Liu Bei and Zhang Fei an another general of Shu Han. They swore on infinite friendship and always to fight on same side. In one clash troops of Liu Bei were defeated and Guan Yu was captured by General Cao Cao. He treated him very well and he became general in Cao Cao army. Guan YU still felt obligation and friendship towards Liu Bei and Zhang Fei and wanted to return to them. He expressed big thanks to Cao Cao and decided to do one favor for him before he leaves him. In battle against General Yan Liang who was opponent to Cao Cao. During battle Guan Yu broke through enemy troops on a horse with one spear and passed through 10000 soldiers to reach general Yan Liang and killed him. As a proof that he killed Yan Liang he brought his head to Cao Cao. Afterwards he rode away on horse from Cao Cao. Cao Cao was so impressed by his loyalty and braveness and ordered his soldiers not to stop Guan Yu.

3 friends
3 friends, Guan Yu, Liu Bei and Zhang Fei

Than since 190 Guan Yu served Liu Bei together with Zhang Fei. They initiated several campaigns against Cao Cao which ended successfully. In 208 large battle at Red Cliffs occurred. Guan Yu commanded naval forces and it was decisive battle between Cao Cao, Liu Bei and Sun Quan. Guan Yu bravely fought without a step back. At the end Cao Cao was severely defeated and was prevented in conquering all China. Liu Bei sent Guan Yu on many campaigns. In 219 Guan Yu was first time defeated at Fangjing. It happened because he suspected that Sun Quans troop will betray Liu Bei. Therefore he was busy with capturing food supplies of Sun Quans troops and it gave opportunity to Cao Cao to attack. During that time dispute between Sun Quan and Liu Bei appeared and they were in open war. Guan Yu with weakened forces because of battle at Fangjing were retreating in Shu Han territory at beginning of 220. On the road he heard that Jiangling ( a town of Shu Han) was conquered by Sun Quans troops. Captured people and soldiers were very well treated and Sun Quan openly made it known in order to make Guan Yus soldiers not interested to fight and surrender. But Guan Yu didn’t want to give up and started approaching Jiangling. Sun Quans troops surrounded them and set an ambush. During courageous fight almost all Gun Yu soldiers died and only he and his few officers were captured. They were executed very soon.

my guan yu
Guan Yu a guardian of my little home altar,

Guan Yu was consencrated during Sui dynasty( 581-618). During Tang and other dynasties he became main symbol and guardian of soldiers and they worshipped him for courage, success in battles and were expected to be loyal as him.

Guan Yu Tao
In Taoist temple,

ENjoy China 😉


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