Patron to police officers, god of war, martial arts and even literature, Guan Yu is the mortal who appeared in Romance of the Three Kingdoms and later became a god. His appearance includes a long beard and a red face, with a green robe worn over body armour. Guan Yu is often depicted stroking his beard and with his weapon called Green Dragon, a halberd like weapon known as a ‘guan dao’.
Guan Yu is refered as “Saintly Emperor Guan” and “Guan Gong” (which means ‘Lord Guan’).
A well known story of Guan Yu is how he got a poisoned arrowed to the arm and had to get surgery. Guan Yu calmly played a game of solitaire while receiving the needed treatment on his arm.
Little is known of Guan Yu’s early life. It is known that he was born in Xie County, Hedong and ended up fleeing his hometown at age twenty-three after killed a man Lu Xiong who was harassing a lady. Five years later he met Liu Bei and Zhang Fei, with the three becoming sworn brothers in a peach orchid.
Guan Yu, Liu Bei and Zhang Fei would sleep in the same room and had meals together, as if they were actual brothers. Originally they fought the group known as the Yellow Turbans. The Yellow Turbans fell and after Liu Bei gained independence from warlord Cao Cao, the Xu Province was taken.
Guan Yu was placed in charge of the regional capital of the city of Xiapi. Xiapi fell soon after and was captured by Cao Cao. Guan Yu was treated respectfully and appointed deputy general. A man known as Yan Liang was sent to attack a place known as Boma and was killed by Guan Yu. Guan Yu got given the title of “Marquis of Hanshou”, but however left to rejoin his sworn brother Liu Bei leaving the gifts from Cao Cao behind.
After Liu Bei lost the Battle of Guandu and having the Jing Province thrown into confusion, Liu Bei and Guan Yu met up. An alliance between Liu Bei and a warlord, Sun Quan, was formed and Cao Cao was defeated at the Battle of Red Cliffs.
Liu Bei eventually become a powerful warlord and was able to conquer the southern Jing Province which lead to Guan Yu being promoted to “General Who Exterminates Rebels”. Later on, after the Battle of Fancheng Guan Yu was captured along with his son Guan Ping by the Wu. Guan Yu was to change sides or die, to which Guan Yu refused due to loyalty and thus executed.
After death Guan Yu’s spirit came to Yuquan Hill, outside of present day Dangyang, Hubei, and protected locals from evil. The worship of Guan Yu is said to have originated from this area. Notably, as a god of war he blesses those who observe righteousness rather going to battle.