272 Beijing Opera Masks - Guan Yu - Number 22
Beijing Opera - "Huarong Path"
Guan Yu with a red full face, plays the leading character in "Huarong Path," an act in the Beijing opera Battle of Red Cliff." Cao Cao the ruler of Wei, was totally defeated in the battle, and Zhuge Liang sent his generals to intercept him at various places along the route of his retreat. He assigned no task to Guan Yu (?-219), who was then Shu's top general. When Guan Yu remonstrated and demanded a part in the battle, Zhuge Liang ordered him to prepare an ambush at Huarong Path. Cao Cao arrived at the path with only 18 followers and begged Guan Yu to let him pass. The old general, unable to forget how generously Cao Cao had once treated him, ordered his troops to disperse, allowing Cao Cao and his stragglers to slip through.
Guan Yu in the later Han dynasty, a period of instability in Chinese history as warring factions tried to wrest control from the weak Han rulers. This turbulent era and Guan Yu's exploits have been colorfully recorded in the Chinese classic, "Romance of the Three Kingdoms".
Guan Yu had to leave his village after killing a bully who had been harassing the other villagers. After wandering for five years, he met a member of the Han royal family, Liu Bei and another brave man, Zhang Fei.
Liu Bei was planning to raise an army to help the Han king, and Guan Yu and Zhang Fei decided do join him in his task. The three men took such a liking to each other that they took an oath to be sworn brothers in the Peach Garden.
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