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Guan YuThe Religious Afterlife of a Failed Hero$
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Barend J. ter Haar

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198803645

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198803645.001.0001

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The Divine Presence

The Divine Presence

(p.114) 5 The Divine Presence
Guan Yu

Barend J. ter Haar

Oxford University Press

Statues and other images were central in the worship of the anthropomorphic deities that became increasingly popular from the Song onwards. Stories would be attached to them, both more personal recent memories and collectively transmitted miracles from the more distant past. These images and stories structured how people imagined the deity and what he was capable of. They enabled them to identify the deity when he appeared to them in a dream, in a vision, or even in real life. This chapter follows the ways in which people encountered Lord Guan in temples and shrines, as well as in dreams and visions, and how they actively enacted him in ritual theatre and different forms of spirit possession. It closes by looking at some of the stories that local people in some regions told of the deity’s early life, again with the aim of making him more real and more imaginable.

Keywords:   Lord Guan, folklore, oral culture, miracles, the Bluegreen Dragon Crescent Moon Halberd, the horse Red Hare, Guan Ping, Zhou Cang

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