The evolution of the God, Guan Gong

Join the Romance of the Three Kingdoms discussion with our resident Scholars. Topics relating to the novel and history are both welcome. Don't forget to check the Forum Rules before posting.
Kongming’s Archives: Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms Officer Biographies
Three Kingdoms Officer Encyclopedia
Scholars of Shen Zhou Search Tool

The evolution of the God, Guan Gong

Unread postby CK » Wed Feb 05, 2003 9:33 pm

1st Chapter: North-South Dynasty to Tang, from human to deity

The Formative period of the belief in Guan Yu

Guan Yu died in 219 AD and it was after nearly 250 years that we see the establishment of his first temple.

The Emperor of Chen then, Chen Bo Zong remarked, "Guan Yu had manisfested himself and became a god." As such, in 567-568, a temple was built east of Dang Yang county (where he was killed) 30 miles, at the northwest of Yu Quan temple. This is the first Guan Gong temple.

During Sui dynasty, many myths of Guan Yu appeard and spread exponentially. Most of them actually came from Jing Zhou and Xiang Yang where he lived and warred there. These include events of Guan Yu's protection of the civilians and instances where he appeared and aided the people. The hometown of Guan Yu, Jie Xian Cheng (City of Jie county) was built in 589. Since then, temples were established around the country.

Tang would further develop this culture and belief, as demonstrated in the below-mentioned developments.

1) Many places renovated and further built the Guan Yu temples. This can be seen on inscriptions made or poems written by the intellectuals. One such poem, <Zhuang Miu Hou Miao Bie You Ren> (Bidding Farewell to a friend at temple) by Lang Jun Zhou wrote," The General graced a heavenly appearance, his loyalty and bravery unparalled. On calvary he waged hundred wars of which his sword matched tens of thousands. Who would feel his grace? ... Away from the fence facing the temple, a toast made to the sky in deep rememberance. I leave without words, and record my sorrows." (Ok, the gist is there thought its not word for word translation.

Dong Yan also wrote a very long article titled <Zhen Yuan Chong Jian Miao Ji> (The reconstruction of the temple). This is significant because while reminiscing the old Guan Yu temple built in 567, the people of the Tang who believed in Guan Yu had already associated it with majestic terms. Secondly, Guan Yu's position in the hierarchy of dieties was still low because even if he then commanded worshipping, he is still between a diety (shen) and a spirit (Guei) Indeed, perhaps he was being worshipped out of fear since even during Qing, he was depicted as a ferocious demi-god. (<Bei Meng Suo Yan> Thirdly, it can also be seen that at the end of Tang, many people had put up statues or portraits of Guan Yu for worshipping, first in the palace and later in the commoners. The portrait would be hanged at the hall or main door. Fourthly and actually with conjunction to the second point, the reason why Guan Yu was still a relatively low status diety was because he is just a historical figure.

It must be noted that in Tang, many other three kingdoms characters had temples set up in memory of them as shown in many literary works, especially poems. These include Zhuge Liang, Zhang Fei, Liu Bei, Zhou Yu and Deng Ai. Indeed, many of the more reowned generals had temples with Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang as having more prominence. Guan Yu was even beneath Zhuge Liang then.

hence, we see a major transition in Guan Yu as a diety. He transformed from a historical figure and fearsome warrior to a worshipped god. Even if his status was not high and the level of belief not widespread, he has nevetheless became a diety. This first manisfestation of the religious belief in Guan Yu would of course be an important foundation for future developments.

This is a very short summary so if you all want the name of the poems etc please feel free to ask.

to be continued
Truth is always partial

Absense of dream creates nothing but dream creates absense if you do nothing
User avatar
CK
Changshi
 
Posts: 399
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 4:30 pm
Location: Singapore

Unread postby Mengdez New Book » Thu Feb 06, 2003 7:43 am

CK, allow me to interrupt here, i am not trying to interfere your works, just adding some of my findings about Guan Yu. :D

People of China began to build Guan Yu temple during Dynasty Tang. At that time, it was called Guan Di Miao (關帝廟) -- The Temple of Emperor Guan or Wu Miao (武廟) -- The Temple of Strength (?). Well, it is said that Wu Miao can match Wen Miao (文廟) which pray for Kong Tze. Also, people at that time choose 13th May (Chinese calender) as the day of Guan Gong because Guan Yu borned at this day.

In the history, the ruler of each Dynasty have gave different tiltles to Guan Yu. Below are the lists of the title. 壯繆侯 (Zhuang Miao Hou) -- 后蜀 (Shu during Wu Hu), 忠惠公 (Zhong Hui Gong) -- 隋 (Sui), 伽萱神 (Qie Xuan Shen) -- 唐 (Tang), 忠惠王 (Zhong Hui Wang) 武安王 (Wu An Wang) -- 宋 (Song), 武安英濟王 (Wu An Ying Ji Wang) 輔正利濟昭忠侯 (Fu Zheng Li Ji Zhao Zhong Hou -- 元 (Yuan), 三界伏魔大帝 (San Jie Fu Mo Da Di) 神威遠震天尊 (Shen Wei Yuan Zhen Tian Zun) 關聖帝君 (Guan Sheng Di Jun) -- 明 (Ming), 忠義神武關聖大帝 (Zhong Yi Shen Wu Guan Sheng Da Di) 公爵 (Gong Jue) 山西天子 (Shan Xi Tian Zi) -- 清 (Qing). Until now, Guan Yu title is 忠義神武靈佑仁勇威顯關聖大帝 (Zhong Yi Shen Wu Ling You Wei Xian Guan Sheng Da Di) which granted by 道光帝 (Dao Guang Emperor) of Dynasty Qing. :D

Btw, great job CK, we can know more about Guan Yu with your works here. :)
User avatar
Mengdez New Book
No Title
 
Posts: 645
Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2003 4:35 am

Unread postby Mengdez New Book » Thu Feb 06, 2003 7:50 am

All the moderators, i would like to say sorry for what i have done here, i try to delete it but seem like i have no authority to do so. Please help me to delete the threads, i think is my pc problem which cause this to happen, sorry again. :?
<i>Edit: Fixed it for you, no worries. :)</i>
User avatar
Mengdez New Book
No Title
 
Posts: 645
Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2003 4:35 am

Unread postby CK » Thu Feb 06, 2003 8:38 am

MNB! Great Job! I like the way you type in so many chinese words.

Indeed, it would be extremely useful when I bring in Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing into the picture.

Which is your source, MNB? :D
Truth is always partial

Absense of dream creates nothing but dream creates absense if you do nothing
User avatar
CK
Changshi
 
Posts: 399
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 4:30 pm
Location: Singapore

Unread postby Cherry Coke » Sat Feb 16, 2008 5:58 pm

Heyyyyyyyy!! I just posted a poll and questionaire concerning this in the literature, academics area...I need to study contemporary views as well. Where did you guys find this info? I'm trying to do a paper on Guan Yu as a god and am having trouble finding some decent sources. Anyone else know any good sources??
Live, Love, Laugh, Believe, Dream
Cherry Coke
Apprentice
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 5:23 pm

Unread postby Shi Tong » Mon Feb 18, 2008 9:56 am

Hello!

This is interesting to read.. MNB, thanks for those chinese characters on Guan Yu's titles.

I'd like to point out something to the non readers of Chinese in this forum about his names:

關帝廟
is still used in Taiwan- I've actually visited a Guan Di Miao- this means "Guan (his surname), Di means emperor, Miao meas temple.

What's interesting is the repetition of some of the characters in his titles, mostly 忠, (loyalty) which reveres Guan Yu as a loyal God, 安王, peace king, which reveres Guan Yu as a God of peace, since Guan was a God who was supposed to be bring aid and peace to the people where he reigned. You'll note a particular repetition of the word Zhong4 忠, meaning that Guan Yu is really revered as a God of Loyalty, not as a lot of people enjoy saying- a God of War.

Curiously, I was wondering about this title:
山西天子
This literally translates to Mountain West Sky Son. This is a really romantic kind of name and not something I've heard before.. what does it mean/ what is is referring to?

Thanks!

-Tongy.
User avatar
Shi Tong
Stupid Egg of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 4034
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:12 pm
Location: London, England

Unread postby Cherry Coke » Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:02 am

I've actually visited a Guan Di Miao- this means "Guan (his surname), Di means emperor, Miao meas temple.

What's interesting is the repetition of some of the characters in his titles, mostly 忠, (loyalty) which reveres Guan Yu as a loyal God, 安王, peace king, which reveres Guan Yu as a God of peace, since Guan was a God who was supposed to be bring aid and peace to the people where he reigned.


This is fascinating and very helpful for thos eof us who are trying to learn Chinese but are not pros :roll: I do have a question though...you mention in this section that the temple would be to emperor Guan? and that he is looked at as a god of peace for where he reigned...do you mean this in a more literal sense? That the people of Taiwan feel he was an actual emperor (mythical perhaps?) or more in the spiritual sense that he is a god who now has some ruling status?
Live, Love, Laugh, Believe, Dream
Cherry Coke
Apprentice
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 5:23 pm

Unread postby Lady Wu » Tue Feb 19, 2008 6:49 am

Cherry Coke wrote:This is fascinating and very helpful for thos eof us who are trying to learn Chinese but are not pros :roll: I do have a question though...you mention in this section that the temple would be to emperor Guan? and that he is looked at as a god of peace for where he reigned...do you mean this in a more literal sense? That the people of Taiwan feel he was an actual emperor (mythical perhaps?) or more in the spiritual sense that he is a god who now has some ruling status?

The organization of the Chinese Heaven mirrors that on earth. Some deities are revered as kings or queens or emperors of heaven, while others are revered as generals, scribes, or other kinds of officials. Unlike mortal politics, though, celestial politics are a lot more relaxed and it's not a big deal if beings overlap in function or jurisdiction.

While the worship of Guan Yu began as a grassroots belief, successive dynasties and emperors saw the benefit of giving state recognition to Lord Guan. But to outdo previous dynasties, emperors would confer more and higher titles to Guan Yu, so in effect Guan Yu gets this super-promotion going through Chinese history. The list of titles Mengdez New Book gave shows the progression of promotions. In the Latter Shu (not Liu Bei's), Guan Yu was revered as a marquis. Then in the Sui he's a duke. In the Tang he was a bodhisattva of sorts, while in the Song and Yuan he became king. In the Ming dynasty he finally got promoted to "emperor". Eventually in the Qing dynasty he ended up being something ridiculous like 忠義神武靈佑仁勇威顯關聖大帝, which means something like "The Holy and August Emperor Guan, the Loyal, Righteous, of Supernatural Prowess and Spiritual Protection, Whose Benevolence and Courage is Majestically Manifest."

All that says is that when you see a statue of this guy, you have to super-wow and do him super-homage.
"Whatever you do, don't fall off the bridge! It'll be a pain to try to get back up again." - Private, DW 8
User avatar
Lady Wu
There's no better state than Wu
There's no better state than Wu
 
Posts: 12764
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 2:35 am
Location: Wu-ere else?

Unread postby Shi Tong » Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:26 pm

:lol: Thanks Lady Wu- someone even more superior in their knowledge of Chinese and Chinese gods than me. :D Nice one!

I wanted to actually ask you something too BTW- the word bodhisattva is a Buddhist term meaning what exactly? I know it means.. like a God or something, because Guan Yin is also a bodhisattva too right? And she's a Goddess, but what exactly is it's "rank", or does it just mean that someone has attained the state of being a God, so it doesn't really have a ranking like duke/ emperor and the like?
User avatar
Shi Tong
Stupid Egg of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 4034
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:12 pm
Location: London, England

Unread postby Lady Wu » Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:05 pm

Shi Tong wrote:I wanted to actually ask you something too BTW- the word bodhisattva is a Buddhist term meaning what exactly? I know it means.. like a God or something, because Guan Yin is also a bodhisattva too right? And she's a Goddess, but what exactly is it's "rank", or does it just mean that someone has attained the state of being a God, so it doesn't really have a ranking like duke/ emperor and the like?

In Mahayana Buddhism (the branch of Buddhism that has the most influence over popular beliefs), it is believed that everyone can become a buddha and live in eternal bliss if they worked hard enough to achieve enlightenment. Bodhisattvas are beings that have achieved a high degree of enlightenment, probably buddha-like, but chose to stick around to use their wisdom to lead mortals to enlightenment.

Trivia: the Bodhisattva "Guan Yin" was originally male. Then somewhere during the transmission of the belief in China, he became female. :shock:
"Whatever you do, don't fall off the bridge! It'll be a pain to try to get back up again." - Private, DW 8
User avatar
Lady Wu
There's no better state than Wu
There's no better state than Wu
 
Posts: 12764
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 2:35 am
Location: Wu-ere else?

Next

Return to Sanguo Yanyi Symposium

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 4 guests

Copyright © 2002–2008 Kongming’s Archives. All Rights Reserved