A portrait of Guan Yu in the Sancai Tuhui
|General of Liu Bei|
|Courtesy name||Yunchang (云长; 雲長; Yúncháng; Yun-chang)|
|Posthumous name||Marquis Zhuangmou (壮缪侯; 壯繆侯; Zhuàngmóu Hóu; Chuang-mou Hou) 1|
|Buddhist name||Sangharama Bodhisattva (伽蓝菩萨; 伽藍菩薩; Qiélán Púsà; Chieh-lan Pu-sa)|
|Deity name||Guan Sheng Di Jun (关圣帝君; 關聖帝君; Guān Shèng Dì Jūn; Kuan Sheng Ti Chun; "Saintly Emperor Guan")|
|^1 See General worship for more posthumous titles.|
Guan Yu (died 220 CE), courtesy name Yunchang, was a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty. He played a significant role in the civil war that led to the collapse of the dynasty and the establishment of the state of Shu Han – founded by Liu Bei – in the Three Kingdoms period. After Liu Bei gained control of Yi Province in 214 CE, Guan Yu remained in Jing Province to govern and defend the area for about seven years. In 219 CE, while he was away fighting Cao Cao's forces at the Battle of Fancheng, Liu Bei's ally Sun Quan broke the Sun–Liu alliance and sent his general Lü Meng to invade and conquer Liu Bei's territories in Jing Province in a stealth operation. By the time Guan Yu found out about the loss of Jing Province after his defeat at Fancheng, it was too late. He was subsequently captured in an ambush by Sun Quan's forces and executed.
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 Yu 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.
- 1 Historical sources
- 2 Physical appearance
- 3 Early life and career
- 4 Short service under Cao Cao
- 5 Returning to Liu Bei
- 6 Battle of Red Cliffs and aftermath
- 7 Guarding Jing Province
- 8 Battle of Fancheng
- 9 Losing Jing Province
- 10 Death
- 11 Anecdotes
- 12 Family
- 13 Appraisal
- 14 In fiction
- 15 Worship of Guan Yu
- 16 Modern references
- 17 See also
- 18 Notes
- 19 References
- 20 External links
The authoritative historical source on Guan Yu's life is the Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi), which was written by Chen Shou in the third century. 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 (Records of Shu), by Wang Yin; Wei Shu (Book of Wei), by Wang Shen, Xun Yi and Ruan Ji; Jiang Biao Zhuan, by Yu Pu; Fu Zi, by Fu Xuan; Dianlue, by Yu Huan; Wu Li (History of Wu), by Hu Chong; 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 description of him in the first chapter of the Ming dynasty 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,[a] and had a two chi[b] long beard; his face was of the colour of a zao,[c] with red lips; his eyes were like that of a phoenix's,[d] and his eyebrows resembled silkworms.[e] 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. In illustrations of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Guan Yu is traditionally depicted wearing a green robe over his body armour.
Supposedly, Guan Yu's weapon was a guan dao named Green Dragon Crescent Blade, which resembled a glaive 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.
Early life and career
Guan Yu was from Xie County (解縣), Hedong Commandery (河東郡), which is in present-day Yuncheng, Shanxi. His original courtesy 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 Commandery (平原郡; around present-day Dezhou, Shandong), 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[f] 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 aftermath
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 Defeats 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 commander of Sun Quan's forces in Jing Province) later held talks with Guan Yu to discuss and settle the problem. During this time Cao Cao seized Hanzhong commandery, which was a huge strategic threat to Liu Bei. 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 growing 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 relieve 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 return." 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.[g] 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."[h][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 allegedly had a 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, 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]
In 1719, the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty awarded the hereditary title "Wujing Boshi" (五經博士; "Professor of the Five Classics") to Guan Yu's descendants living in Luoyang. The bearer of the title is entitled to an honorary position in the Hanlin Academy.
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[i] 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 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 roughly translates to "The Holy and August Emperor Guan, the Loyal, Righteous, of Supernatural Prowess and Spiritual Protection, Whose Benevolence and Courage is Majestically Manifest". It 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, and many shrines to him are found in homes, businesses and fraternal organisations. 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 elder 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 is 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: Puzzle & Dragons; Sango Fighter; Destiny of an Emperor; Atlantica Online; Smite. He is also referenced in Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom, Titan Quest and Koihime Musō.
- In the Eastern Han dynasty, one chi was approximately 23.1 cm, nine chi was approximately 2.079 metres (6 feet, 9.85 inches). Hulsewé, A. F. P. "Han measures." T'oung pao Archives, Vol. XLIX, Livre 3, 1961, pp. 206-207.
- In the Eastern Han dynasty, one chi was approximately 23.1 cm, two chi was approximately 46.2 cm (~18 inches)
- His face had a dark red hue to it, like the colour of dark jujube fruit.
- The corners of his eyes were upturned
- They were long and tapered.
- The title of marquis was divided into three grades during the Han dynasty and Three Kingdoms period. These are, in ascending order of prestige, tinghou (亭侯; marquis of a village), xianghou (郷侯; marquis of a district) and xianhou (縣侯; marquis of a county). Guan Yu's was the first.
- See Lü Meng#Invasion of Jing Province for details.
- The "peerless beard" referred to Guan Yu because Guan was known for sporting a beard regarded as beautiful in his time. Quote from Sanguozhi vol. 36: (羽美鬚髯，故亮謂之髯。)
- Guoshi (國士) could loosely translated as "gentleman of the state". It referred to persons who had made very outstanding contributions to their countries. See the dictionary definition of 國士.
- Citations from Sanguozhi vol. 36
- (關羽字雲長，本字長生，河東解人也。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (亡命奔涿郡。先主於鄉里合徒衆，而羽與張飛為之禦侮。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (先主為平原相，以羽、飛為別部司馬，分統部曲。先主與二人寢則同牀，恩若兄弟。而稠人廣坐，侍立終日，隨先主周旋，不避艱險。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (先主之襲殺徐州刺史車冑，使羽守下邳城，行太守事，而身還小沛。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (建安五年，曹公東征，先主奔袁紹。曹公禽羽以歸，拜為偏將軍，禮之甚厚。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (紹遣大將軍顏良攻東郡太守劉延於白馬，曹公使張遼及羽為先鋒擊之。羽望見良麾蓋，策馬刺良於萬衆之中，斬其首還，紹諸將莫能當者，遂解白馬圍。曹公即表封羽為漢壽亭侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (初，曹公壯羽為人，而察其心神無乆留之意，謂張遼曰：「卿試以情問之。」旣而遼以問羽，羽歎曰：「吾極知曹公待我厚，然吾受劉將軍厚恩，誓以共死，不可背之。吾終不留，吾要當立效以報曹公乃去。」遼以羽言報曹公，曹公義之。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (及羽殺顏良，曹公知其必去，重加賞賜。羽盡封其所賜，拜書告辭，而奔先主於袁軍。左右欲追之，曹公曰：「彼各為其主，勿追也。」) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (從先主就劉表。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (表卒，曹公定荊州，先主自樊將南渡江，別遣羽乘船數百艘會江陵。曹公追至當陽長阪，先主斜趣漢津，適與羽船相值，共至夏口。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (孫權遣兵佐先主拒曹公，曹公引軍退歸。先主收江南諸郡，乃封拜元勳，以羽為襄陽太守、盪寇將軍，駐江北。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (先主西定益州，拜羽董督荊州事。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (二十四年，先主為漢中王，拜羽為前將軍，假節鉞。是歲，羽率衆攻曹仁於樊。曹公遣于禁助仁。秋，大霖雨，漢水汎溢，禁所督七軍皆沒。禁降羽，羽又斬將軍龐德。梁郟、陸渾羣盜或遙受羽印號，為之支黨，羽威震華夏。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (曹公議徙許都以避其銳，司馬宣王、蔣濟以為關羽得志，孫權必不願也。可遣人勸權躡其後，許割江南以封權，則樊圍自解。曹公從之。先是，權遣使為子索羽女，羽罵辱其使，不許婚，權大怒。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (而曹公遣徐晃救曹仁，羽不能克，引軍退還。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (又南郡太守麋芳在江陵，將軍傅士仁屯公安，素皆嫌羽自輕己。羽之出軍，芳、仁供給軍資不悉相救。羽言「還當治之」，芳、仁咸懷懼不安。於是權陰誘芳、仁，芳、仁使人迎權。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (權已據江陵，盡虜羽士衆妻子，羽軍遂散。權遣將逆擊羽，斬羽及子平于臨沮。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (追謚羽曰壯繆侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (羽聞馬超來降，舊非故人，羽書與諸葛亮，問超人才可誰比類。亮知羽護前，乃荅之曰：「孟起兼資文武，雄烈過人，一世之傑，黥、彭之徒，當與益德並驅爭先，猶未及髯之絕倫逸羣也。」) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (羽省書大恱，以示賔客。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (羽甞為流矢所中，貫其左臂，後創雖愈，每至陰雨，骨常疼痛，醫曰：「矢鏃有毒，毒入于骨，當破臂作創，刮骨去毒，然後此患乃除耳。」羽便伸臂令醫劈之。時羽適請諸將飲食相對，臂血流離，盈於盤器，而羽割炙引酒，言笑自若。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (子興嗣。興字安國，少有令問，丞相諸葛亮深器異之。弱冠為侍中、中監軍，數歲卒。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (子統嗣，尚公主，官至虎賁中郎將。卒，無子，以興庶子彝續封。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (評曰：關羽、張飛皆稱萬人之敵，為世虎臣。羽報效曹公，飛義釋嚴顏，並有國士之風。然羽剛而自矜，飛暴而無恩，以短取敗，理數之常也。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- Citations from other parts of the Sanguozhi
- (靈帝末，黃巾起，州郡各舉義兵，先主率其屬從校尉鄒靖討黃巾賊有功，除安喜尉。) Sanguozhi vol. 32.
- (先主據下邳。靈等還，先主乃殺徐州刺史車冑，留關羽守下邳，而身還小沛。) Sanguozhi vol. 32.
- (五年，曹公東征先主，先主敗績。曹公盡收其衆，虜先主妻子，并禽關羽以歸。) Sanguozhi vol. 32.
- (曹公與袁紹相拒於官渡，汝南黃巾劉辟等叛曹公應紹。紹遣先主將兵與辟等略許下。關羽亡歸先主。曹公遣曹仁將兵擊先主，先主還紹軍，陰欲離紹，乃說紹南連荊州牧劉表。紹遣先主將本兵復至汝南，與賊龔都等合，衆數千人。 ... 曹公旣破紹，自南擊先主。先主遣麋笁、孫乾與劉表相聞，表自郊迎，以上賔禮待之，益其兵，使屯新野。) Sanguozhi vol. 32.
- (聞先主已過，曹公將精騎五千急追之，一日一夜行三百餘里，及於當陽之長坂。) Sanguozhi vol. 32.
- (後從平荊州，留屯襄陽，擊關羽、蘇非等，皆走之， ...) Sanguozhi vol. 17.
- (與樂進討關羽於尋口，有功 ... 又攻羽輜重於漢津，燒其船於荊城。) Sanguozhi vol. 18.
- (及羽與肅鄰界，數生狐疑，疆埸紛錯，肅常以歡好撫之。備旣定益州，權求長沙、零、桂，備不承旨，權遣呂蒙率衆進取。備聞，自還公安，遣羽爭三郡。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (羽號有三萬人，自擇選銳士五千人，投縣上流十餘里淺瀨，云欲夜涉渡。肅與諸將議。 ... 肅便選千兵益寧，寧乃夜往。羽聞之，住不渡，而結柴營，今遂名此處為關羽瀨。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
- (備遂割湘水為界，於是罷軍。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (賊圍頭有屯，又別屯四冢。晃揚聲當攻圍頭屯，而密攻四冢。羽見四冢欲壞，自將步騎五千出戰，晃擊之，退走，遂追陷與俱入圍，破之，或自投沔水死。) Sanguozhi vol. 17.
- (羽果信之，稍撤兵以赴樊。魏使于禁救樊，羽盡禽禁等，人馬數萬，託以糧乏，擅取湘關米。權聞之，遂行，先遣蒙在前。蒙至尋陽，盡伏其精兵中，使白衣搖櫓，作商賈人服，晝夜兼行，至羽所置江邊屯候，盡收縛之，是故羽不聞知。遂到南郡，士仁、麋芳皆降。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (會權尋至，羽自知孤窮，乃走麥城，西至漳鄉，衆皆委羽而降。權使朱然、潘璋斷其徑路，即父子俱獲，荊州遂定。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (權征關羽，璋與朱然斷羽走道，到臨沮，住夾石。璋部下司馬馬忠禽羽，并羽子平、都督趙累等。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
- ([景耀]三年秋九月，追謚故將軍關羽、張飛、馬超、龐統、黃忠。) Sanguozhi vol. 33.
- Citations from annotations in the Sanguozhi
- (江表傳云：羽好左氏傳，諷誦略皆上口。) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (魏書云：以羽領徐州。) Wei Shu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (傅子曰：遼欲白太祖，恐太祖殺羽，不白，非事君之道，乃歎曰：「公，君父也；羽，兄弟耳。」遂白之。太祖曰：「事君不忘其本，天下義士也。度何時能去？」遼曰：「羽受公恩，必立效報公而後去也。」) Fu Zi annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (臣松之以為曹公知羽不留而心嘉其志，去不遣追以成其義，自非有王霸之度，孰能至於此乎？斯實曹氏之休美。) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (蜀記曰：羽初出軍圍樊，夢豬嚙其足，語子平曰：「吾今年衰矣，然不得還！」) Shu Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (蜀記曰：羽與晃宿相愛，遙共語，但說平生，不及軍事。須臾，晃下馬宣令：「得關雲長頭，賞金千斤。」羽驚怖，謂晃曰：「大兄，是何言邪！」晃曰：「此國之事耳。」) Shu Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (典略曰：羽圍樊，權遣使求助之，勑使莫速進，又遣主簿先致命於羽。羽忿其淹遲，又自已得于禁等，乃罵曰：「狢子敢爾，如使樊城拔，吾不能滅汝邪！」權聞之，知其輕己，偽手書以謝羽，許以自往。) Dianlue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (臣松之以為荊、吳雖外睦，而內相猜防，故權之襲羽，潛師密發。按呂蒙傳云：「伏精兵於之中，使白衣搖櫓，作商賈服。」以此言之，羽不求助於權，權必不語羽當往也。若許相援助，何故匿其形迹乎？) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (蜀記曰：權遣將軍擊羽，獲羽及子平。權欲活羽以敵劉、曹，左右曰：「狼子不可養，後必為害。曹公不即除之，自取大患，乃議徙都。今豈可生！」乃斬之。) Shu Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (臣松之桉吳書：孫權遣將潘璋逆斷羽走路，羽至即斬，且臨沮去江陵二三百里，豈容不時殺羽，方議其生死乎？又云「權欲活羽以敵劉、曹」，此之不然，可以絕智者之口。) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (吳歷曰：權送羽首於曹公，以諸侯禮葬其屍骸。) Wu Li annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (蜀記曰：曹公與劉備圍呂布於下邳，關羽啟公，布使秦宜祿行求救，乞娶其妻，公許之。臨破，又屢啟於公。公疑其有異色，先遣迎看，因自留之，羽心不自安。此與魏氏春秋所說無異也。) Shu Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (初，羽隨先主從公圍呂布於濮陽，時秦宜祿為布求救於張楊。羽啟公：「妻無子，下城，乞納宜祿妻。」公許之。及至城門，復白。公疑其有色，李本作他。自納之。) Huayang Guo Zhi vol. 6.
- (蜀記曰：初，劉備在許，與曹公共獵。獵中，衆散，羽勸備殺公，備不從。及在夏口，飄颻江渚，羽怒曰：「往日獵中，若從羽言，可無今日之困。」備曰：「是時亦為國家惜之耳；若天道輔正，安知此不為福邪！」) Shu Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (臣松之以為備後與董承等結謀，但事泄不克諧耳，若為國家惜曹公，其如此言何！羽若果有此勸而備不肯從者，將以曹公腹心親戚，寔繁有徒，事不宿構，非造次所行；曹雖可殺，身必不免，故以計而止，何惜之有乎！旣往之事，故託為雅言耳。) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (蜀記曰：龐德子會，隨鍾、鄧伐蜀，蜀破，盡滅關氏家。) Shu Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- Other sources
- The Zizhi Tongjian stated that Guan Yu was captured and executed in the 12th month in the 24th year in the Jian'an era (196-220) of the reign of Emperor Xian of Han. Quote from Zizhi Tongjian vol. 68: (... [獻帝建安二十四年（己亥、二一九年）]十二月，璋司馬馬忠獲羽及其子平於章鄉，斬之，遂定荊州。) This date corresponds to sometime in January 220.
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