Chinese Mythology

The Folk Gods and Spirits of the Middle Kingdom

GUAN YU

Daoist War God

Also known as Guan Di, Guan Gong, Yunchang, Guan Sheng Di Jun, Chang Shen, Kuan-Yu, Kuan-Ti, Kuan-Kung, Yun-Chang, Kuan Sheng Ti Chun, Chang-Shen

God of War and Martial Arts

He is a Daoist deity who is also well thought of by Buddhists. As told in Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, he started life as a mortal vendor of soya bean curd (see To-fu).

But after a heroic incident involving the rescue of a harassed lady and the killing of a tax inspector, he got the taste for battle and embarked on a famous military career with Liu Bei and Zhang Fei, becoming one of the Three Brothers of the Peach Orchard.

Unusually for a God of War, he uses his skill to avoid confrontations if at all possible. A peace-loving deity, he tries to minimize every battle he’s in. (Surely you’ve heard of Kung Few?) But his bravery is legendary.

In one famous tale, his arm was damaged in battle and needed surgery. To the incredulity of on-lookers, he calmly sat playing Solitaire while field surgeons did excruciating things to his tendons. (Just as well Solitaire is a one-handed game.)

When he was finally captured, Guan Yu was told by Wu, the evil new Emperor, to change sides or face death. Guan Yu not only refused, he uttered a terrible insult which made even the soldiers blush.

Loyal Guan Yu knew that changing sides during a war was not only immoral but also against the Law. For his bravery, and because he died defending legal issues, he also became the patron God of Police Officers.

Legend tells that after he died, Guan Yu appeared before a meditating Master of Buddhism and asked for spiritual guidance. Which was only natural under the circumstances.

Quickly learning the Five Precepts, he became a Buddhist, reached Enlightenment, and now devotes the rest of his Immortality to defending the faith. A completely honorary position, but extremely well-regarded.

Finally, Guan Yu is also worshiped as a God of Literature — because he managed to read a whole page of Confucius without going cross-eyed.

Guan Yu Facts and Figures

Name: Guan Yu
Pronunciation: Goo-arn Yoo
Alternative names: Guan Di, Guan Gong, Yunchang, Guan Sheng Di Jun, Chang Shen, Kuan-Yu, Kuan-Ti, Kuan-Kung, Yun-Chang, Kuan Sheng Ti Chun, Chang-Shen

Gender: Male
Type: God
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: War
Area of expertise: War

Good/Evil Rating: NEUTRAL, may not care
Popularity index: 2171

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Article last revised on April 22, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

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