University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Object Title關聖帝君明聖經 The Lord Thearch Sage Guan’s Scripture Illuminating Sageliness.
Object Number: 29-96-727
Current Location: Collections storage
Provenience: China
Early Date: 1850
Late Date: 1930
Height: 29cm
Width: 60cm
Credit Line:Bequest of Maxwell Sommerville, 1904


Morality book, advocating loyalty, filial piety and other ethical behaviors. Versions of this text were circulating in the 18th c. and were widely printed and sold in the late 19th and early 20th centuries under a variety of similar titles.

The “Lord Thearch Sage Guan” is the deified Guan Yu 關羽. Guan Yu was a military leader during the final decades of the Latter Han dynasty (25-220AD) who was subsequently incorporated into the pantheon of Chinese popular religion. Temples to Guan Yu are widespread in East Asia and among overseas Chinese communities.

The text, in the voice of Guan Yu, claims that it was revealed through a dream to the monks of Yuquan temple (Yuquansi 玉泉寺, in modern Hubei Province), and that its recitation or reproduction will deliver a variety of beneficial outcomes, including safe travel, relief from diseases, the dispelling of demons, and the growing up of one’s children.

The publisher is given as Ruiyuantang 瑞元堂 of Xihujie 西湖街, Guangzhou.

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