|Chinese Fairy Tales
THE GOD OF WAR
THE God of War, Guan Di, was really named Guan
Yu. At the time when the rebellion of the Yellow Turbans was raging
throughout the empire, he, together with two others whom he met by the
wayside, and who were inspired with the same love of country which
possessed him, made a pact of friendship. One of the two was Liu Be,
afterward emperor, the other was named Dschang Fe. The three met in a
peach-orchard and swore to be brothers one to the other, although they
were of different families. They sacrificed a white steed and vowed to
be true to each other to the death.
Guan Yu was faithful,
honest, upright and brave beyond all measure. He loved to read
Confucius’s “Annals of Lu,” which tell of the rise and fall of empires.
He aided his friend Liu Be to subdue the Yellow Turbans and to conquer
the land of the four rivers. The horse he rode was known as the Red
Hare, and could run a thousand miles in a day. Guan Yu had a knife
shaped like a half-moon which was called the Green Dragon. His eyebrows
were beautiful like those of the silk-butterflies, and his eyes were
long-slitted like the eyes of the Phenix. His face was scarlet-red in
color, and his beard so long that it hung down over his stomach. Once,
when he appeared before the emperor, the latter called him Duke
Fairbeard, and presented him with a silken pocket in which to place his
beard. He wore a garment of green brocade. Whenever he went into battle
he showed  invincible bravery. Whether he were opposed by a
thousand armies or by ten thousand horsemen—he attacked them as though
they were merely air.
Once the evil Tsau Tsau had incited the
enemies of his master, the Emperor, to take the city by treachery. When
Guan Yu heard of it he hastened up with an army to relieve the town.
But he fell into an ambush, and, together with his son, was brought a
captive to the capital of the enemy’s land. The prince of that country
would have been glad to have had him go over to his side; but Guan Yu
swore that he would not yield to death himself. Thereupon father and
son were slain. When he was dead, his horse Red Hare ceased to eat and
died. A faithful captain of his, by name of Dschou Dsang, who was
black-visaged and wore a great knife, had just invested a fortress when
the news of the sad end of the duke reached him. And he, as well as
other faithful followers would not survive their master, and perished.
the time a monk, who was an old compatriot and acquaintance of Duke
Guan was living in the Hills of the Jade Fountains. He used to walk at
night in the moonlight.
Suddenly he heard a loud voice cry down out of the air: “I want my head back again!”
monk looked up and saw Duke Guan, sword in hand, seated on his horse,
just as he appeared while living. And at his right and left hand,
shadowy figures in the clouds, stood his son Guan Ping and his captain,
The monk folded his hands and said: “While you
lived you were upright and faithful, and in death you have become a
wise god; and yet you do not understand fate! If you insist on having
your head back  again, to whom shall the many thousands of your
enemies who lost their lives through you appeal, in order to have life
restored to them?”
When he heard this the Duke Guan bowed and
disappeared. Since that time he has been without interruption
spiritually active. Whenever a new dynasty is founded, his holy form
may be seen. For this reason temples and sacrifices have been
instituted for him, and he has been made one of the gods of the empire.
Like Confucius, he received the great sacrifice of oxen, sheep and
pigs. His rank increases with the passing of centuries. First he was
worshiped as Prince Guan, later as King Guan, and then as the great god
who conquers the demons. The last dynasty, finally, worships him as the
great, divine Helper of the Heavens. He is also called the God of War,
and is a strong deliverer in all need, when men are plagued by devils
and foxes. Together with Confucius, the Master of Peace, he is often
worshiped as the Master of War.