The are various gods of wealth in Chinese culture. So many that they can be categorized primary, secondary, and even legendary.
But probably none of them are as revered and recognizable as Guan Yu (關羽), the military god of wealth.
Guan Yu is a real prominent historical figure during the period of the 3 kingdoms. And his reputation throughout ancient China led to him being deified after his death.
He also goes by several other names including the courtesy name Yun Chang (雲長), the honorific name Guan Gong (關公), the godly name Guan Di (關帝), etc. This is without mentioning the various titles bestowed on him for his accomplishments on the battlefields.
Distinctively recognizable with his long beard and crescent blade weapon, this is someone you would not want to be on the wrong side of in a conflict.
So adulated was he that countless temples were built in China to worship him as a deity. At one point, it was said that there were more temples in China erected for him than any other single god.
Legends of Guan Yu
There are a lot of folklore and stories about Guan Yu that has been written about in various publications.
And many of them are so well-known that repeating them here is not meaningful.
Most of his legends are associated with loyalty, courage and righteousness. Many of which are tied to his relationship with Liu Bei and Zhang Fei who make up the infamous trio of sworn brothers.
There are however, other legends in a more spiritual nature that some might not have heard of.
One was about Guan Yu being a reincarnation of a dragon king who sent rain to the farmers who were facing a severe drought… without the permission of the Jade Emperor. He was beheaded and sent to the mortal world where a priest came across the dragon head and performed a 9-day ritual with it. The dragon head seemingly disappeared on the ninth day and at that moment a baby was born. He grew up to become Guan Yu.
As mentioned earlier, Guan Yu was a real person who lived during the period of the 3 kingdoms.
The worship of him did not originate from Taoism or any other religion. But originate from what he represented to the people and how much people held him in high regards.
The symbolism that his image carries is that of protection and wealth.
There’s really no other god with a better resume than Guan Yu to protect you and your wealth.
Thus, statues, figurines and paintings of Guan Gong are a favorite among businesses to display in the office to ward off bad luck and guard the company profits from unknowingly flowing out.
The more menacing he is depicted to be, the more powerful he is. The most revered version of him is said to be the one in a commanding posture holding his trademark weapon and 9 dragons embossed on his body, and 5 dragon flags attached on his back.
Because it is a symbolism of protection from evil and bad luck, the image of Guan Yu is most often near the entrance to a house or office which greets every person who enters the premises via the main door.
Some rules of placement include:
- Not be placed under a beam
- No sharp corners pointing at it
- Should not face the toilet or stove
- Not be directly in front of a sofa
- Ideally positioned at an auspicious height but not at a height below the knees
- No visible empty space under the table or altar
Because Guan Gong is associated with wealth, he can also be place in any of the wealth locations identified in a house.