THE ART MOTIF OF CHINA IMPERIAL CERAMIC FOUND IN INDONESIA
PART III. STUDIES RESULTS
Dr Iwan Suwandy , MHA
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Motif symbolic type and meaning
Type dan Arti Motif Simbolik
Based on symbolic motifs by William CSA (1932)
Berdasarkan jenis motif symbol menurut William C.S.A(1932)
Confucius was a philosopher in ancient China, about 500 BC. His main idea was that people could achieve peace by doing their duty, and cooperating with society. If people rebelled, and everyone tried to do his or her own thing, then the world would be full of fighting and unhappiness.
So people should obey the law, and do what the emperor and government officials told them to do. Also, people should do their duty to their parents and take good care of their children, and people should do their duty to their ancestors and to the gods.
At the same time, the government should do its duty to the people, and not abuse them or ask too much of them. The emperor should be cooperative and helpful to the people, just as the people were helpful and cooperative to him.
Because Confucius wanted to make government officials behave better, the Chinese government did not like him while he was alive. But after Confucius died, later emperors of China did use many of his ideas. Of course they mainly liked the idea that people should obey the government, and they weren’t so interested in the idea that the government should help the people!
Here’s an example of a story people told about Confucius:
Zi Lu, they say, asked Confucius, “When we hear a good idea, should we start to do it right away?” Confucius told him no. “First, you should always ask someone with more experience.” Later on, Ran You asked Confucius the same question. But this time Confucius said, “Yes, of course you should do it right away.” There was another student who had heard both of these conversations and was very confused. He asked Confucius why he had answered the same question in two different ways?
“Ran You has a hard time making a decision,” Confucius said. “So I encouraged him to be bolder. Zi Lu sometimes decides things too quickly. So I reminded him to be careful. Naturally different people should get different answers
Kuan Ti kuan kong guan yu
Guan Yu (died 219), style name Yunchang, was a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han Dynasty of China. He played a significant role in the civil war that led to the collapse of the Han Dynasty and the establishment of the state of Shu Han in the Three Kingdoms period, of which Liu Bei was the first emperor.
As one of the best known Chinese historical figures throughout East Asia, Guan’s true life stories have largely given way to fictionalised ones, most of which are found in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms or passed down the generations, in which his deeds and moral qualities have been lionised. Guan is respected as an epitome of loyalty and righteousness.
Guan was deified as early as the Sui Dynasty and is still worshipped by many Chinese people today, especially in southern China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and among many overseas Chinese communities. He is a figure in Chinese folk religion, popular Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism, and small shrines to Guan are almost ubiquitous in traditional Chinese shops and restaurants. He is often reverently called Guan Gong (Lord Guan) and Guan Di (Emperor Guan). His hometown Yuncheng has also named its airport after him.
Historical sources on Guan Yu’s life
The authoritative historical source on Guan Yu’s life is the Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi), written by Chen Shou in the third century CE. During the fifth century, Pei Songzhi annotated the Sanguozhi by incorporating information from other sources to Chen Shou’s original work and adding his personal commentary. Some alternative texts used in the annotations to Guan Yu’s biography include: Shu Ji (蜀記; Records of Shu), by Wang Yin (王隱); Wei Shu (魏書; Book of Wei), by Wang Shen (王沈), Xun Yi (荀顗) and Ruan Ji; Jiang Biao Zhuan (江表傳), by Yu Pu (虞溥); Fu Zi (傅子), by Fu Xuan; Dianlue (典略), by Yu Huan; Wu Li (吳歷; History of Wu), by Hu Chong (胡沖); Chronicles of Huayang, by Chang Qu.
No descriptions of Guan Yu’s physical appearance exist in historical records, but his beard was mentioned in the Sanguozhi. Traditionally, he is portrayed as a red-faced warrior with a long lush beard. The idea of his red face may have derived from a later description of him in the first chapter of the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, where the following passage appears:
Xuande took a glance at the man, who stood at a height of nine chi,[notes 1] and had a two chi[notes 2] long beard; his face was of the colour of a zao,[notes 3] with red lips; his eyes were like that of a phoenix’s,[notes 4] and his eyebrows resembled silkworms.[notes 5] He had a dignified aura and looked quite majestic.
Alternatively, the idea of his red face could have been borrowed from opera representation, where red faces depict loyalty and righteousness. Supposedly, Guan Yu’s weapon was a guan dao named Green Dragon Crescent Blade, which resembled a halberd and was said to weigh 82 catties (about 18.25 kg or 40 lbs). A wooden replica can be found today in the Emperor Guan Temple in Xiezhou County, Shanxi. He traditionally dons a green robe over his body armour, as depicted in illustrations of Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Guan Yu was a native of Xie (解), Hedong commandery (河東郡), which is in present-day Yuncheng, Shanxi. His original style name was “Changsheng” (長生).[Sanguozhi 1] He was very interested in the Zuo Zhuan and could fluently recite lines from the book.[Sanguozhi zhu 1] He fled from his hometown after committing a serious crime and arrived in Zhuo commandery (涿郡; present-day Zhuozhou, Hebei). When the Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out in the 180s, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei joined a volunteer militia formed by Liu Bei, and they assisted a Colonel (校尉) Zou Jing in suppressing the revolt.[Sanguozhi 2][Sanguozhi others 1]
When Liu Bei was appointed as the Chancellor (相) of Pingyuan (平原), Guan Yu and Zhang Fei were appointed as “Majors of Separate Command” (别部司马) and they commanded detachments of soldiers under Liu. The three of them shared a brotherly-like relationship, to the point of sharing the same room. Zhang Fei and Guan Yu also stood guard beside Liu Bei when he sat down at meetings. They followed him on his exploits and protected him from danger.[Sanguozhi 3]
Short service under Cao Cao
Liu Bei and his men followed Cao Cao back to the imperial capital Xu (許; present-day Xuchang, Henan) after their victory over Lü Bu at the Battle of Xiapi in 198. About a year later, in 199, Liu Bei and his followers escaped from Xu on the pretext of helping Cao Cao lead an army to attack Yuan Shu. Liu Bei went to Xu Province, killed its Inspector (刺史) Che Zhou (車冑), and seized control of the province. He moved to Xiaopei (小沛; present-day Pei County, Xuzhou, Jiangsu) and left Guan Yu in charge of the provincial capital Xiapi (下邳; present-day Pizhou, Xuzhou, Jiangsu).[Sanguozhi 4] [Sanguozhi others 2][Sanguozhi zhu 2]
In 200, Cao Cao led an eastern campaign against Liu Bei, defeated the latter in battle, and retook Xu Province. Liu Bei fled to northern China and found refuge under Cao Cao’s rival Yuan Shao. Guan Yu was captured by Cao Cao’s forces and brought back to Xu. Cao Cao treated Guan Yu respectfully and asked Emperor Xian to appoint Guan as a Lieutenant-General (偏將軍).[Sanguozhi 5][Sanguozhi others 3]
Battle of Boma
Later that year, Yuan Shao sent his general Yan Liang to lead an army to attack Cao Cao’s garrison at Boma (白馬; or Baima), which was defended by Liu Yan (劉延). Cao Cao sent Zhang Liao and Guan Yu to lead a vanguard force to resist the enemy. In the midst of battle, Guan Yu recognised Yan Liang’s parasol so he charged towards the latter, decapitated him and returned with Yan’s head. Yuan Shao’s men were unable to stop him. The siege on Boma was lifted. On Cao Cao’s recommendation, Emperor Xian conferred the title of “Marquis[notes 6] of Hanshou Village” (漢壽亭侯) on Guan Yu.[Sanguozhi 6]
Leaving Cao Cao
Cao Cao admired Guan Yu’s character, but he also sensed that Guan had no intention of serving under him for long. He told Zhang Liao, “Why don’t you make use of your friendship with Guan Yu to find out his objective?” When Zhang Liao asked Guan Yu, the latter replied, “I’m aware that Lord Cao treats me very generously. However, I’ve also received much favours from General Liu and I’ve sworn to follow him until I die. I cannot break my oath. I’ll leave eventually, so you should help me convey my message to Lord Cao.” Zhang Liao did so, and Cao Cao was further impressed with Guan Yu.[Sanguozhi 7] The Fu Zi gave a slightly different account of this incident. It stated that Zhang Liao had a dilemma on whether to convey Guan Yu’s message to Cao Cao or not: if he did, Cao Cao might execute Guan Yu; if he did not, he would be failing in his service to Cao Cao. He sighed, “Lord Cao is my superior and is like a father to me; Guan Yu is like a brother to me.” He eventually made his decision to tell Cao Cao. Cao Cao said, “A subject who serves a lord but does not forget his origins is truly a man of righteousness. When do you think he will leave?” Zhang Liao replied, “Guan Yu has received favours from Your Excellency. He’ll most probably leave after he has repaid your kindness.”[Sanguozhi zhu 3]
After Guan Yu slew Yan Liang and lifted the siege on Boma, Cao Cao knew that he would leave, so he presented Guan with even heavier rewards. Guan Yu sealed up all the gifts he received from Cao Cao, wrote a farewell letter to the latter, and headed towards Yuan Shao’s territory to reunite with Liu Bei. Cao Cao’s subordinates wanted to pursue Guan Yu, but Cao stopped them and said, “He’s just doing his duty to his lord. There’s no need to pursue him.”[Sanguozhi 8]
Pei Songzhi commented on this as follows: “Cao Cao admired Guan Yu’s character even though he knew that the latter would not remain under him. He did not send his men to pursue Guan Yu when the latter left, so as to allow Guan to fulfil his loyalty. If he did not possess the magnanimity of an overlord, how would he have allowed this to happen? This was a showcase of Cao Cao’s goodness.”[Sanguozhi zhu 4]
Returning to Liu Bei
When Cao Cao and Yuan Shao clashed at the Battle of Guandu in 200, Yuan sent Liu Bei to contact Liu Pi, a Yellow Turban rebel chief in Runan (汝南; present-day Runan County, Zhumadian, Henan), and assist Liu Pi in attacking the imperial capital Xu (許; present-day Xuchang, Henan) while Cao was away at Guandu. Guan Yu reunited with Liu Bei around this time. Liu Bei and Liu Pi were defeated by Cao Cao’s general Cao Ren, after which Liu Bei returned to Yuan Shao. Liu Bei secretly planned to leave Yuan Shao, so he pretended to persuade Yuan to ally with Liu Biao, the Governor (牧) of Jing Province. Yuan Shao sent Liu Bei to contact another rebel leader, Gong Du, in Runan, where they gathered a few thousand soldiers. Cao Cao turned back and attacked Runan after scoring a decisive victory over Yuan Shao at Guandu, and he defeated Liu Bei in Runan. Liu Bei fled south and found shelter under Liu Biao, who put him in charge of Xinye (新野; present-day Xinye County, Nanyang, Henan) at the northern border of Jing Province. Guan Yu followed Liu Bei to Xinye.[Sanguozhi others 4][Sanguozhi 9]
Battle of Red Cliffs and after
Liu Biao died in 208 and was succeeded by his younger son, Liu Cong, who surrendered Jing Province to Cao Cao when the latter started a campaign that year with the aim of wiping out opposing forces in southern China. Liu Bei evacuated Xinye together with his followers and they headed towards Xiakou (夏口; in present-day Wuhan, Hubei), which was guarded by Liu Biao’s elder son Liu Qi and was independent of Cao Cao’s control. Along the journey, Liu Bei divided his party into two groups – one led by Guan Yu which would sail along the river towards Jiangling (江陵; in present-day Jingzhou, Hubei); another led by Liu Bei which would travel on land. Cao Cao sent 5,000 elite cavalry to pursue Liu Bei and they caught up with him at Changban (長坂), Dangyang (當陽), igniting the Battle of Changban. Liu Bei managed to escape from the pursuers and reach Han Ford (漢津), where he was picked up by Guan Yu’s fleet, and they sailed to Xiakou together.[Sanguozhi others 5][Sanguozhi 10]
In 208, Liu Bei allied with Sun Quan and they defeated Cao Cao at the decisive Battle of Red Cliffs. Cao Cao retreated north after his defeat and left Cao Ren behind to defend Jing Province. In the Battle of Jiangling (a follow-up to Red Cliffs), Guan Yu was sent to block Cao Ren’s supply lines via infiltration, so he led a special force to attack Xiangyang, which was guarded by Cao Cao’s general Yue Jin. Yue Jin defeated Guan Yu and Su Fei (蘇非) and drove them away.[Sanguozhi others 6] After seizing and pacifying the various commanderies in southern Jing Province, Liu Bei appointed Guan Yu as the Administrator (太守) of Xiangyang and “General Who Rocks Bandits” (盪寇將軍), and ordered him to garrison at the north of the Yangtze River.[Sanguozhi 11]
Guarding Jing Province
Between 212 and 215, Liu Bei started a campaign to seize control of Yi Province (益州; covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) from the provincial governor Liu Zhang. Most of Liu Bei’s subordinates participated in the campaign, while Guan Yu was ordered to remain behind to guard Liu’s territories in Jing Province and oversee its affairs.[Sanguozhi 12]
Sun-Liu territorial dispute
During that period of time, tensions were rising at the border between Liu Bei and Sun Quan‘s domains in Jing Province as the two allies became more suspicious of each other. After Liu Bei had taken over Yi Province, Sun Quan asked him for three commanderies in southern Jing Province but Liu refused. Sun Quan then sent his general Lü Meng to seize the three commanderies by force. In response, Liu Bei ordered Guan Yu to lead troops to stop Lü Meng,[Sanguozhi others 8] but Guan was deterred by Gan Ning from crossing the shallows near Yiyang (益陽) to confront Sun Quan’s forces. The shallows were thus named ‘Guan Yu’s Shallows‘ (關羽瀨).[Sanguozhi others 9] Lu Su (the chief commander of Sun Quan’s forces in Jing Province) later held talks with Guan Yu to discuss and settle the problem. Liu Bei eventually agreed to divide Jing Province between his and Sun Quan’s domains along the Xiang River. Both sides then withdrew their forces.[Sanguozhi others 10]
Battle of Fancheng
In 219, Liu Bei emerged victorious in the Hanzhong Campaign against Cao Cao, after which he declared himself “King of Hanzhong” (漢中王). He appointed Guan Yu as “General of the Vanguard” (前將軍) and bestowed upon him a ceremonial axe. In the same year, Guan Yu led his forces to attack Cao Ren at Fan (樊; or Fancheng, in present-day Fancheng District, Xiangyang, Hubei) and besieged the city. Cao Cao sent Yu Jin to lead reinforcements to help Cao Ren. It was in autumn and there were heavy showers, so the Han River overflowed. Yu Jin’s seven armies were destroyed in the flood. Yu Jin surrendered to Guan Yu while his subordinate Pang De refused and was executed by Guan. The bandits led by Liang Jia (梁郟) and Lu Hun (陸渾) received official seals from Guan Yu, so they submitted to him and became his followers. Guan Yu’s fame spread throughout China.[Sanguozhi 13]
The Shu Ji recorded that before Guan Yu embarked on the Fancheng campaign, he dreamt about a boar biting his foot. He told his son Guan Ping, “I’m becoming weaker this year. I may not be able to return.”[Sanguozhi zhu 5]
Belittling Sun Quan
After Yu Jin’s defeat, Cao Cao contemplated relocating the imperial capital from Xu (許; present-day Xuchang, Henan) to another place to avoid Guan Yu, but Sima Yi and Jiang Ji told him that Sun Quan would become restless when he heard of Guan Yu’s victory. They suggested to Cao Cao to ally with Sun Quan and enlist his help in hindering Guan Yu’s advances, and in return, Cao Cao would recognise the legitimacy of Sun Quan’s claim over the territories in Jiangdong. In this way, the siege on Fancheng would automatically be lifted. Cao Cao heeded their suggestion. Previously, Sun Quan had sent a messenger to meet Guan Yu and propose a marriage between his son and Guan’s daughter. However, Guan Yu not only rejected the proposal, but also scolded and humiliated the messenger. Sun Quan was enraged.[Sanguozhi 14]
Encounter with Xu Huang
Cao Cao later sent Xu Huang to lead another army to relief Cao Ren at Fancheng. Xu Huang broke Guan Yu’s encirclement and routed Guan’s forces on the battlefield, thus lifting the siege on Fancheng.[Sanguozhi others 11] Guan Yu withdrew his forces after seeing that he could not overcome the enemy.[Sanguozhi 15] The Shu Ji recorded an incident about Xu Huang meeting Guan Yu on the battlefield. Xu Huang had a close friendship with Guan Yu. They often chatted about other things apart from military affairs. When they met again at Fancheng, Xu Huang gave an order to his men, “Whoever manages to take Guan Yunchang’s head will be rewarded with 1,000 jin of gold.” Guan Yu was shocked and he asked Xu Huang, “Brother, what are you talking about?” Xu Huang replied, “This is an affair of the state.”[Sanguozhi zhu 6]
Losing Jing Province
After Guan Yu defeated and captured Yu Jin at Fan (樊; or Fancheng), his army lacked food supplies so he seized grain from one of Sun Quan‘s granaries at Xiang Pass (湘關). By then, Sun Quan had secretly agreed to the alliance with Cao Cao, and had sent his general Lü Meng and others to lead a vanguard force to invade Jing Province while he followed behind with another army. At Xunyang (尋陽), Lü Meng ordered his troops to hide in vessels disguised as civilian and merchant ships and they sailed towards Jing Province. Along the way, Lü Meng employed infiltration tactics to disable the watchtowers set up by Guan Yu along the river, so Guan was totally unaware of the invasion.[Sanguozhi others 12]
When Guan Yu embarked on the Fancheng campaign, he left Mi Fang and Shi Ren behind to defend his key bases in Jing Province — Nan commandery (南郡) and Gong’an (公安). Guan Yu had all along viewed them with contempt. During the campaign, Mi Fang and Shi Ren sent insufficient supplies to Guan Yu’s army at the frontline, and Guan remarked, “I’ll deal with them when I come back.” Mi Fang and Shi Ren felt uneasy about this. When Sun Quan invaded Jing Province, Lü Meng showed understanding towards Mi Fang and successfully induced the latter into surrendering while Yu Fan also persuaded Shi Ren to give up resistance. Liu Bei’s territories in Jing Province fell under Sun Quan’s control after the surrenders of Mi Fang and Shi Ren.[Sanguozhi 16]
Dubious account from the Dianlue
An annotation from the Dianlue in Guan Yu’s biography mentioned:
When Guan Yu was besieging Fancheng, Sun Quan sent a messenger to Guan to offer aid but he also instructed the messenger to slowly travel there. He then sent a registrar (主簿) ahead to meet Guan Yu first. Guan Yu was unhappy that Sun Quan’s offer came late because he had already captured Yu Jin by then. He scolded the messenger, “You raccoon dogs dare to behave like this! If I can conquer Fancheng, what makes you think I can’t destroy you?” When Sun Quan heard Guan Yu’s reply, he knew that Guan was disparaging him, but he wrote a letter to Guan and pretended to apologise and offer to allow Guan to pass through his territory freely.[Sanguozhi zhu 7]
Pei Songzhi commented on the Dianlue account as follows:
Although Liu Bei and Sun Quan appeared to get along harmoniously, they were actually distrustful of each other. When Sun Quan later attacked Guan Yu, he despatched his forces secretly, as mentioned in Lü Meng’s biography: ‘[…] elite soldiers hid in vessels disguised as civilian and merchant ships.’ Based on this reasoning, even if Guan Yu did not seek help from Sun Quan, the latter would not mention anything about granting Guan free passage in his territory. If they genuinely wished to help each other, why would they conceal their movements from each other?[Sanguozhi zhu 8]
By the time Guan Yu retreated from Fancheng, Sun Quan‘s forces had occupied Jiangling (江陵) and captured the families of Guan’s soldiers. Lü Meng ordered his troops to treat the civilians well and ensure that they were not harmed.[notes 7] Most of Guan Yu’s soldiers lost their fighting spirit and deserted and went back to Jing Province to reunite with their families. Guan Yu knew that he had been isolated so he withdrew to Maicheng (麥城; present-day Maicheng Village, Lianghe Town, Dangyang, Hubei) and headed west to Zhang District (漳鄉), where his remaining men deserted him and surrendered to the enemy. Sun Quan sent Zhu Ran and Pan Zhang to block Guan Yu’s retreat route. Guan Yu, along with his son Guan Ping and subordinate Zhao Lei, were captured alive by Pan Zhang’s deputy Ma Zhong in an ambush. Guan Yu and Guan Ping were later executed by Sun Quan’s forces in Linju (臨沮; in present-day Nanzhang County, Xiangyang, Hubei).[Sanguozhi 17][Sanguozhi others 13][Sanguozhi others 14]
Alternate account from the Shu Ji
The Shu Ji mentioned that Sun Quan initially wanted to keep Guan Yu alive in the hope of using Guan to help him counter Liu Bei and Cao Cao. However, his followers advised him against doing so, saying, “A wolf should not be kept as a pet as it will bring harm to the keeper. Cao Cao made a mistake when he refused to kill Guan Yu and landed himself in deep trouble, to the point of considering relocating the capital to another place. How can Guan Yu be allowed to live?” Sun Quan then ordered Guan Yu’s execution.[Sanguozhi zhu 9]
Pei Songzhi disputed this account, as he wrote:
According to the Wu Shu (吳書; Book of Wu, by Wei Zhao), when Sun Quan sent Pan Zhang to block Guan Yu’s retreat route, Guan was executed immediately after he was captured. Linju was about 200-300 li away from Jiangling, so how was it possible that Guan Yu was kept alive while Sun Quan and his subjects discussed whether to kill him or not? The claim that ‘Sun Quan wanted to keep Guan Yu alive for the purpose of using him to counter Liu Bei and Cao Cao’ does not make sense. It was probably used to silence wise persons.[Sanguozhi zhu 10]
Sun Quan sent Guan Yu’s head to Cao Cao, who arranged a noble’s funeral for Guan and had the head properly buried with full honours.[Sanguozhi zhu 11] In 260, Liu Shan granted Guan Yu the posthumous title of “Marquis Zhuangmou” (壯繆侯),[Sanguozhi 18][Sanguozhi others 15] which implied that Guan did not live up to his name in terms of his ability.
Request to take Qin Yilu’s wife
During the Battle of Xiapi in late 198, when the allied forces of Cao Cao and Liu Bei fought against Lü Bu, Guan Yu made a request to Cao Cao, asking to marry Qin Yilu‘s wife Lady Du (杜氏) after they had achieved victory. Cao Cao agreed, and Guan Yu repeatedly reminded Cao Cao about his promise before the battle was won. After Lü Bu’s defeat and death, Cao Cao was curious about why Guan Yu wanted Lady Du so badly and he guessed that she must be very beautiful, so he had her brought to him. Cao Cao broke his promise to Guan Yu, as he took Lady Du as his concubine and adopted her son Qin Lang (whom she had with Qin Yilu).[Sanguozhi zhu 12][Sanguozhi zhu 13]
Advice to Liu Bei
The Shu Ji recorded an incident as follows:
When Liu Bei was in the imperial capital Xu, he once attended a hunting expedition together with Cao Cao, during which Guan Yu urged him to kill Cao but he refused. Later, when Liu Bei reached Xiakou (after his defeat at the Battle of Changban), Guan Yu angrily said, “If you had heeded my advice during the hunting expedition in Xu, we would not have ended up in this troubling situation.” Liu Bei replied, “I did not do so then for the sake of the Empire. If Heaven still helps those who are righteous, it might be possible that this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise!”[Sanguozhi zhu 14]
Pei Songzhi commented on the incident as such:
When Liu Bei, Dong Cheng and others plotted against Cao Cao, their plan failed because it was leaked out. If he did not want to kill Cao Cao for the sake of the country, what did he mean when he said this? If Guan Yu really did urge Liu Bei to kill Cao Cao during the hunting expedition and Liu did not do so, it was probably because Cao Cao’s close aides and relatives were present at the scene and had superiority in numbers. Besides, there was a lack of careful planning so Liu Bei had to wait for another opportunity. Even if Liu Bei succeeded in killing Cao Cao, he would not have been able to escape alive, so Liu did not heed Guan Yu’s words. There was nothing to regret about. The hunting expedition event happened in the past, so it was used to justify that Guan Yu had given Liu Bei “valued advice”, which the latter ignored.[Sanguozhi zhu 15]
Asking Zhuge Liang about Ma Chao
In 215, Ma Chao defected from Zhang Lu‘s side to Liu Bei’s forces, and he assisted Liu Bei in pressuring Liu Zhang to surrender and yield Yi Province to Liu Bei. When Guan Yu received news that Ma Chao (whom he was unfamiliar with) had recently joined them, he wrote to Zhuge Liang in Yi Province and asked the latter who could compete with Ma Chao. Zhuge Liang knew that Guan Yu was defending their border (so he should not displease the latter). As such, he replied, “Mengqi is proficient in both civil and military affairs. He is fierce and mighty, and a hero of his time. He is comparable to Qing Bu and Peng Yue. He can compete with Yide, but is not as good as the peerless beard.”[notes 8][Sanguozhi 19]
Guan Yu was very pleased when he received Zhuge Liang’s reply and he welcomed Ma Chao.[Sanguozhi 20]
Guan Yu was once injured in the left arm by a stray arrow, which pierced through his arm. Although the wound had healed, he would experience pain in the bone whenever there was a heavy downpour. A physician told him, “The arrowhead had poison on it and the poison had seeped into the bone. The way to get rid of this problem is to cut open your arm and scrape away the poison in your bone.” Guan Yu then stretched out his arm and asked the physician to heal him. He then invited his subordinates to dine with him while the surgery was being performed. Blood flowed from his arm into a container below. Throughout the operation, Guan Yu feasted and drank wine and chatted with his men as though nothing had happened.[Sanguozhi 21]
Guan Yu had two known sons — Guan Ping and Guan Xing. Guan Xing inherited his father’s title “Marquis of Hanshou Village” (漢壽亭侯) and served in the state of Shu during the Three Kingdoms period.[Sanguozhi 22] Guan Yu also had a daughter. Sun Quan once proposed a marriage between his son and Guan Yu’s daughter, but Guan rejected the proposal. Her name was not recorded in history, but she was known as “Guan Yinping” (關銀屏) or “Guan Feng” (關鳳) in folktales and Chinese opera. Guan Yu had an alleged third son, Guan Suo, who is not mentioned in historical texts and appears only in folklore and the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Guan Xing’s son, Guan Tong (關統), married a princess (one of Liu Shan‘s daughters) and served as a “General of the Household” (中郎將) in the Rapid as Tigers (虎賁) division of the imperial guards. Guan Tong had no son when he died, so he was succeeded by his younger half-brother Guan Yi (關彝).[Sanguozhi 23]
According to the Shu Ji (蜀記), after the fall of Shu in 263, Pang Hui (Pang De‘s son) massacred Guan Yu’s family and descendants to avenge his father, who was executed by Guan Yu after the Battle of Fancheng in 219.[Sanguozhi zhu 16]
Chen Shou, who wrote Guan Yu’s biography in the Sanguozhi, commented on the latter as such: “Guan Yu […] were referred to as mighty warriors capable of fighting thousands of enemies. They were like tigers among (Liu Bei‘s) subjects. Guan Yu […] had the style of a guoshi[notes 9] when he repaid Cao Cao’s kindness […] However, Guan Yu was unrelenting and conceited, […] and these shortcomings resulted in their downfalls. This was not something uncommon.”[Sanguozhi 24]
Luo Guanzhong‘s historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms glorified Guan Yu by portraying him as a righteous and loyal warrior. Guan Yu was one of the most altered and aggrandised characters in the novel, which accounted for his popular image in Chinese society.
See the following for some fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms involving Guan Yu:
- Oath of the Peach Garden
- Battle of Sishui Pass
- Battle of Hulao Pass
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Guan Yu’s three conditions
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Guan Yu slays Yan Liang and Wen Chou
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Guan Yu crosses five passes and slays six generals
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Guan Yu slays Cai Yang at Gucheng
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Guan Yu releases Cao Cao at Huarong Trail
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Guan Yu attends a banquet alone armed with only a blade
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Hua Tuo heals Guan Yu’s arm
- Lü Meng#In fiction
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Events after Guan Yu’s death
Worship of Guan Yu
Guan Yu was deified as early as the Sui Dynasty (581–618), and is still popularly worshipped today among the Chinese people. He is variedly worshipped as an indigenous Chinese deity, a bodhisattva in Buddhist tradition and as a guardian deity in Taoism and many religious bodies. He is also held in high esteem in Confucianism. These roles are not necessarily contradictory or even distinguished within the Chinese religious system, which often merge multiple ancient philosophies and religions.
In the Western world, Guan Yu is sometimes called the Taoist God of War, probably because he is one of the most well-known military generals worshipped by the Chinese people. This is a misconception of his role, as, unlike the Greco-Roman deity Mars or the Norse god Týr, Guan Yu, as a god, does not necessarily bless those who go to battle but rather, people who observe the code of brotherhood and righteousness.
In general worship, Guan Yu is widely referred to as “Emperor Guan” (關帝), short for his Taoist title “Saintly Emperor Guan” (關聖帝君), and as “Guan Gong” (關公; literally: “Lord Guan”). Temples and shrines dedicated exclusively to Guan can be found in parts of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and other places with Chinese influence such as Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan. Some of these temples, such as the Emperor Guan Temple in Xiezhou (解州), Shanxi, were built exactly in the layout of a palace, befitting his status as an “emperor”.
The apotheosis of Guan Yu occurred in stages, as he was given ever higher posthumous titles. Liu Shan, the second emperor of Shu, gave Guan Yu the posthumous title of “Marquis Zhuangmou” (壯繆侯) four decades after his death. During the Song Dynasty, Emperor Huizong bestowed upon Guan Yu the title of “Duke Zhonghui” (忠惠公), and later the title of a prince. In 1187, during the reign of Emperor Xiaozong, Guan Yu was established as “Prince Zhuangmou Yiyong Wu’an Yingji” (壯繆義勇武安英濟王). After the Song Dynasty was annihilated by the Mongols, who established the Yuan Dynasty in China, Guan Yu was renamed “Prince of Xianling Yiyong Wu’an Yingji” (顯靈義勇武安英濟王) by Emperor Wenzong.
The escalation of Guan Yu’s status to that of an emperor took place during the Ming Dynasty. In 1614, the Wanli Emperor bestowed on Guan Yu the title of “Saintly Emperor Guan the Great God Who Subdues Demons of the Three Worlds and Whose Awe Spreads Far and Moves Heaven” (三界伏魔大神威遠震天尊關聖帝君). During the Qing Dynasty, the Shunzhi Emperor gave Guan Yu the title of “Zhongyi Shenwu Great Saintly Emperor Guan” (忠義神武關聖大帝) in 1644. This title was expanded to “The Grand Emperor Zhongyi Shenwu Lingyou Renyong Weixian Huguo Baomin Jingcheng Suijing Yizan Xuande Guan Sheng Dadi” (仁勇威顯護國保民精誠綏靖翊贊宣德忠義神武關聖大帝), a total of 24 Chinese characters, by the mid-19th century. This name is often shortened to “Saint of War” (武聖), which is of the same rank as Confucius, who was known as the “Saint of Culture” (文聖) during the same period. The Qing advancement of Guan Yu served to strengthen the loyalty of Mongol tribes, as the Mongols revered Guan as second only to their lamas.
Throughout history, Guan Yu has also been credited with many military successes. During the Ming Dynasty, his spirit was said to have aided Zhu Yuanzhang (the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty)’s fleet at the Battle of Lake Poyang. In 1402, Zhu Di launched a coup d’état and successfully deposed his nephew, the Jianwen Emperor. Zhu Di claimed that he was blessed by the spirit of Guan Yu. During the last decade of the 16th century, Guan Yu was also credited with the repulse of Japanese invasion of Korea by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (called the Seven-Year War of Korea). The ruling Manchu house of the Qing Dynasty was also associated with Guan Yu’s martial qualities. During the 20th century, Guan Yu was worshipped by the warlord Yuan Shikai, president and later a short-lived emperor of China.
Today, Guan Yu is still widely worshipped by the Chinese, with many shrines to him are found in homes or businesses. In Hong Kong, a shrine for Guan is located in each police station. Though by no means mandatory, most Chinese policemen worship and pay respect to him. Although seemingly ironic, members of the triads and Heaven and Earth Society worship Guan as well. Statues used by triads tend to hold the halberd in the left hand, and statues in police stations tend to hold the halberd in the right hand. This signifies which side Guan Yu is worshipped, by the righteous people or vice versa. The appearance of Guan Yu’s face for the triads is usually more stern and threatening than the usual statue. This exemplifies the Chinese belief that a code of honour, epitomised by Guan Yu, exists even in the criminal underworld. In Hong Kong, Guan Yu is often referred to as “Yi Gor” (二哥; Cantonese for “second big brother”) for he was second to Liu Bei in their fictional sworn brotherhood. Guan Yu is also worshipped by Chinese businessmen in Shanxi, Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia as an alternative wealth god, since he is perceived to bless the upright and protect them from the wicked. Another reason being related to the release of Cao Cao during the Huarong Trail incident, in which he let Cao and his men pass through safely. For that, he was perceived to be able to extend the lifespan of people in need.
Among the Cantonese people who emigrated to California during the mid-19th century, the worship of Guan Yu was an important element. Statues and tapestry images of the god can be found in a number of historical California joss houses (a local term for Taoist temples), where his name may be given with various Anglicised spellings, including Kwan Dai, Kwan Tai, Kuan Ti, Kuan Kung, Wu Ti, Mo Dai, Guan Di, Kuan Yu, Kwan Yu, or Quan Yu. The Mendocino Joss House, a historical landmark also known as Mo Dai Miu, the Military God-King’s Temple, or Temple of Kwan Tai, built in 1852, is a typical example of the small shrines erected to Guan Yu in America.
Worship in Taoism
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Guan Yu is revered as “Saintly Emperor Guan” (simplified Chinese: 关圣帝君; traditional Chinese: 關聖帝君; pinyin: Gūanshèngdìjūn) and a leading subduer of demons in Taoism. Taoist worship of Guan Yu began during the Song Dynasty. Legend has it that during the second decade of the 12th century, the saltwater lake in present day Xiezhou County (解州鎮) gradually ceased to yield salt. Emperor Huizong then summoned Celestial Master Zhang Jixian (張繼先), 30th generation descendant of Zhang Daoling, to investigate the cause. The emperor was told that the disruption was the work of Chi You, a deity of war. Zhang Jixian then recruited the help of Guan Yu, who battled Chi You over the lake and triumphed, whereupon the lake resumed salt production. Emperor Huizong then bestowed upon Guan Yu the title of “Immortal of Chongning” (崇寧真君), formally introducing the latter as a deity into Taoism.
In the early Ming Dynasty, the 42nd Celestial Master Zhang Zhengchang (張正常) recorded the incident in his book Lineage of the Han Celestial Masters (漢天師世家), the first Taoist classic to affirm the legend. Today, Taoist practices are predominant in Guan Yu worship. Many temples dedicated to Guan Yu, including the Emperor Guan Temple in Xiezhou County, show heavy Taoist influence. Every year, on the 24th day of the sixth month on the lunar calendar (legendary birthday of Guan Yu, Guan was actually born on the 22nd day of the sixth month of 160), a street parade in the honour of Guan Yu would also be held.
Worship in Buddhism
In Chinese Buddhism, Guan Yu is revered by most practising Buddhists as Sangharama Bodhisattva (simplified Chinese: 伽蓝菩萨; traditional Chinese: 伽藍菩薩,; pinyin: Qíelán Púsà) a heavenly protector of the Buddhist dharma. Sangharama in Sanskrit means ‘community garden’ (sangha, community + arama, garden) and thus ‘monastery’. The term Sangharama also refer to the dharmapala class of devas and spirits assigned to guard the Buddhist monastery, the dharma, and the faith itself. Over time and as an act of syncreticism, Guan Yu was seen as the representative guardian of the temple and the garden in which it stands. His statue traditionally is situated in the far left of the main altar, opposite his counterpart Skanda.
According to Buddhist legends, in 592, Guan Yu manifested himself one night before the Zen master Zhiyi, the founder of the Tiantai school of Buddhism, along with a retinue of spiritual beings. Zhiyi was then in deep meditation on Yuquan Hill (玉泉山) when he was distracted by Guan Yu’s presence. Guan Yu then requested the master to teach him about the dharma. After receiving Buddhist teachings from the master, Guan Yu took refuge in the triple gems and also requested the Five Precepts. Henceforth, it is said that Guan Yu made a vow to become a guardian of temples and the dharma. Legends also claim that Guan Yu assisted Zhiyi in the construction of the Yuquan Temple (玉泉寺), which still stands today.
Guan Yu appears in Chinese operas such as Huarong Trail, Red Cliffs, and other excerpts from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. His costume is a green military opera uniform with armour covering his right arm and the knees of his pants. The actor’s face is painted red with a few black lines, to represent honour and courage. He also wears a long three-section black beard made of yak hair and carries the Green Dragon Crescent Blade. Traditionally, after the show ends, the actor has to wash his face, burn joss paper, light incense, and pray to Chinese deities.
Film and television
Notable actors who have portrayed Guan Yu in film and television include: Lu Shuming, in Romance of the Three Kingdoms (1994); Wang Yingquan, in The Legend of Guan Gong (2004); Ti Lung, in Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon (2008); Ba Sen, in Red Cliff (2008-2009); Yu Rongguang, in Three Kingdoms (2010); Donnie Yen, in The Lost Bladesman (2011).
Films which make references to Guan Yu include: Stephen Chow‘s comedy film From Beijing with Love (1994), which, in one scene, refers to the story of Hua Tuo performing surgery on Guan Yu’s arm; Zhang Yimou‘s Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005), in which the fictional story of Guan Yu slaying six generals and crossing five passes forms a major part of the narrative; the horror comedy film My Name Is Bruce (2007), where Guan Yu’s vengeful spirit is accidentally set free by a group of teenagers and he begins to terrorise their town.
Guan Yu appears as a playable character in many video games based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms which are produced by Koei, including: the strategy game series of the same title as the novel; the action game series Dynasty Warriors and Warriors Orochi. Other non-Koei titles in which he also appears include: Sango Fighter; Destiny of an Emperor; Atlantica Online; Smite. He is also referenced in Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom, Koihime Musō, Titan Quest and Koihime Musō.
Ancient Chinese warrior yue fei
Ancient Chinese Warrior Yue Fei
A close up view of the
ancient Chinese warrior painting
mounted to this silk wall scroll
The story behind this Ancient Chinese Warrior painting:
Yue Fei (Pinyin with tone marks: Yue Fei) (1103 – 1142 A.D.)
Days after his birth, flooding of the Yellow River destroyed Yue Fei’s village. His father drowned in the floods, but not before he had ensured the survival of his wife and son by floating them downstream in a very large clay jar. Yue Fei and his mother settled in Hebei province. Becoming proficient in warfare at an early age, Yue Fei as a young man narrowly escaped execution after killing the Prince of Liang in a martial arts tournament. He did not join the fight against the Jurchen invaders until he was 23.
A Famous Tattoo
According to legend, Yue Fei’s mother tattooed four characters (jing zhong bao guo) which mean “serve the country loyally” on his back before he left home.
This tattoo became the quest for the remainder of his life.
As a valiant and tactically astute general, Yue Fei led many successful campaigns against the forces of the Jurchen. Taking advantage of the difficulties which his opponents’ cavalry experienced in the hilly terrain of Southern China, he was able to score victories although his troops were frequently outnumbered. His forces succeeded in regaining territory south of the Yangtze and Huai Rivers.
The enemies even said, “To push over a mountain is done with great ease, but to push over Yue’s army is done with great difficulty”.
Yue Fei was also known for his strict discipline of his legions, forbidding them to pillage, even when facing the harshest of conditions. He was a role model for followers of Confucius’ ideas and moral values, as well as being an accomplished martial artist and was very poetic.
Sadly, his attempt to recoup the northern lands lost by the Southern Song Dynasty was opposed by officials who believed further warfare would prove too costly. This desire to complete his quest is reflected in his most famous poem (Yue Fei was also a renowned poet) Manjiang Hong (Entirely Red River).
In the middle of a long victorious campaign against the Jurchen, corrupt officials, the most famous being the traitor Qin Hui, persuaded Emperor Gaozong to recall Yue Fei to the capital. Yue Fei had been readying to attack the Jurchen’s Jin Dynasty Capital at the time. The emperor ordered Yue Fei to return twelve times in the form of twelve gold plaques before Yue Fei capitulated.
Qin Hui could not find a reason to execute the captured Yue Fei and was about to release him. However, Qin Hui’s wife made the suggestion that since the emperor held absolute power, Qin Hui having the authority of the emperor, needed no reason to execute Yue Fei.
Yue Fei and his son, Yue Yun, were sentenced to death and executed on charges that were not proven but instead “could be true”.
It is for this reason that not only Qin Hui, but his wife also kneels before Yue Fei’s tomb.
Legend has it those who plotted to have Yue Fei executed were haunted by his ghost and driven to commit suicide.
Today, he is revered as one of the great symbols of patriotism and a national hero in China
Manjiang Hong is well-read and is known throughout China and Chinese people around the world, and his mausoleum in Hangzhou is well-visited. There are also two heavily mutilated statues of Qin Hui and his wife, topless, kneeling outside the temple as if begging for mercy. People in the past used to spit upon and kick them, until they were protected as part of the historic temple.
Yue Fei has been in 126 battles and won them all; this is perhaps the best military record in world history.
This edited information about Yue Fei was obtained from Wikipedia
Used in compliance with the GNU Free Documentation License.
About the Art
This is a elaborate style painting using special black Chinese ink and watercolor on xuan paper (rice paper).
This rice paper was then taken to our mounting shop in Beijing where a hand-made silk wall scroll was created for this painting.
This wall scroll then flew with me from China to the USA and is now located at our San Diego, California gallery, ready to be shipped to you.
How I found this art…
Visiting an old friend and artist in Chengdu, I notice a woman is politely waiting for me. Soon enough, I finish my business, and leave my friend to work on some art that I would pick up several days later. The polite woman greets me as I walk out. She quietly asks if I would just take a look at her artwork.
I walk over to her little booth and take a look. The work is good, and I am surprised that she doesn’t have a studio-gallery like a lot of artists. She says that she likes to sell in the market, and put paintings in the hands of “the common man”. It is then that I realize we have a similar philosophy.
The artist, Li Ying-Lai, was really excited when I told him that I wanted dragons and legendary warriors of China. He said that dragons and warriors are his favorite subject to paint.
I look through her whole collection, and pick out several pieces that I like. Her husband shows up, and helps out getting paintings out of boxes for me to look at.
After we settle and I pay for all of the paintings, he asks if there is any other kind of art that I am looking for. I tell him, in Chinese, “I have been looking for warriors and really cool dragons for a long time”. Suddenly he is very excited. Grabbing through several boxes he emerges with a photo album. He hands the album to me and tells me that I must look!
Opening the album, I see a great collection of paintings of “Legendary Warriors of China” and several eye-catching dragons. He tells me that all of the photos are of his paintings.
Now, I get pretty excited, because I’ve been looking for good warrior-paintings for more than a year and a half, and I am always on the lookout for a good dragon-painting.
He doesn’t have any work ready to sell, but we talk about sizes, styles, and which warriors and dragons I want, and even down to what the background of each piece should be. We talk until the end of the day, and finally we talk about the price. I am expecting something high, but the price he gives me is just too low for this quality of work. So, for the first time in my art-buying career, I “reverse-bargain”, and tell him that I will pay 50% more as long as the quality is good. He and his wife look puzzled for a second, and then he remarks in Chinese, “I have been waiting to hear someone say that for a long time”. The gesture as they took it was not about money, but more about my personal compliment on the quality and importance of the art itself