Guanyu (AD160-219), also named Yunchang, was born in the modern-day village of Changping near the city of Yuncheng, Shanxi province and is referred to as Emperor Guan. The Guan Gong Temple, in the town of Xiezhou is the largest temple of its kind in the world and is on China’s historical protection list. On Nov 17, 2012, it entered the world cultural heritage tentative list, along with some Guangyu architecture.
Guanyu is popularly worshiped by the Chinese people, in different sects and is called the god of war by the common folk, with great influence in China and abroad. Statistics show that Taiwan alone has thousands of Guan Gong Temples. Around the world there are more than 300,000 of these temples, from the United States to Japan, Singapore and Thailand.
The temple in Xiezhou covers a 73,000-square–meter area. In addition to being a national historical heritage site it is a national AAAA scenic area and one of Shanxi’s top 10 scenic areas. It is China’s largest and earliest Guan Gong Temple and consists of three parts: a Xiezhou Ancestral Shrine, Changping Emperor Guan Ancestral Temple, and Changping Emperor Guan Ancestral Mausoleum. An Emperor Guan Imperial Garden has been restored as a classical garden in the northern China architectural style.
The Guan Gong spirit represents ruling class values and he is seen as the epitome of loyalty and righteousness, as well as a patron saint of wealth. But Guan Gong worship is intended to respect moral principles, loyalty, righteousness and courage.