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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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Martial Keeper of Morals

Martial Keeper of Morals

(p.218) 8 Martial Keeper of Morals
Guan Yu

Barend J. ter Haar

Oxford University Press

Religious activities traditionally served an important role by providing ethical rules and values with supernatural legitimation, but also by providing occasions on which these values were performed in the form of rituals, exorcist theatre, and the retelling of moralistic stories. Lord Guan as an enforcer of moral values had an important place in this discourse, because he could reward and punish with the utmost authority. As an overseer of moral behaviour, the deity also became the putative author of moralistic texts, produced through spirit writing. In the course of the nineteenth century, spirit writing groups in Sichuan and elsewhere started adding a new layer to the deity’s mythology, in which he became increasingly seen as a saviour of humanity and eventually even replaced the Jade Emperor himself.

Keywords:   Lord Guan, moral values, morality books, spirit writing, Jade Emperor

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