Mo Tai, God Of War Created By Dave Heaven, Mo Tai, God Of War


This article was first published on July 26, 2016, và has been updated with Kwan Tai’s 2020 birthday date.

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You’ve sầu seen hyên before. Red-faced, gold-crowned, with a long, dark beard blowing assertively in the wind, the very embodiment of masculine yang energy. This is Kwan Tai, Emperor Kwan – a force lớn be reckoned with. A common sight in Chinese homes and businesses, this god, known in Cantonese as Gwaan1 Dai3 (關帝), is celebrated this year by his many followers on August 13. But he did not always have sầu such a high heavenly rank. Born lớn a lowly family, he attained glory on the battlefield in his lifetime and, after his death, rose lớn become the Saintly Emperor Kwan. Much like the goddess Kwun Yum, Kwan Tai is revered in folk religion, Taoism & Buddhism. Similarly to lớn the goddess Tin Hau, he was steadily promoted in the heavenly hierarchy until he attained his regal rank.


It was probably during this time of rivalry between Taoism & Buddhism that the Buddhists in the imperial court also claimed hyên ổn. The story they gave sầu was that Guān appeared before the Zen master Zhìyǐ in 592 và was taught the Dharma by the monk. Guān then vowed to become the guardian of all Buddhist temples and is known as Sangharama Bodhisattva (Gaa1 Laam4 Pou4 Saat3 伽藍菩薩). During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) Guān Yǔ was raised to the highest màn chơi when Emperor Wànlì gave him the lengthy title of Saintly Emperor Guan the Great God Who Subdues Demons of the Three Worlds & Whose Awe Spreads Far and Moves Heaven. This title was amended again during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) when he also became known as Wǔ Shèng (Mou5 Sing3 武聖), or Saint of War by Confucian scholars who were gaining power in the Qing courts.

In Hong Kong, he has a number of names. Known by some as Lord Kwan (Gwaan1 Gung1 關公) or Second Elder Brother (Ji6 Go1 二哥), he is commonly called Kwan Tai or Mo Tai (Mou5 Dai3 武帝). While Mo Tai translates as Military Emperor, he is not actually the god of war in a Western sense. Rather, he represents fraternal brotherhood, loyalty và righteousness. This is how he became the patron god of two opposing groups in Hong Kong: the police & the triads. At first glance, this seems very strange, but both are fraternities with a code of brotherhood who uphold the ikhuyễn mãi giảm giá of honour. Shrines to the god are also found in everyday people’s homes, restaurants and businesses. He is seen by many as a wealth god who protects honourable businessmen and is also thought to give sầu a longer life khổng lồ those who need his help. In Hong Kong, an altar dedicated khổng lồ Kwan Tai can be found in almost every temple, regardless of who the main deity is.

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Under the name Mo Tai, he shares a few temples in Hong Kong with another god, Man Cheong (Man4 Coeng1 文昌), the god of culture và literature. These jointly dedicated Man Mo temples (Man4 Mou5 miu6 文武廟), or civil & military god temples are where students go to pray for academic success. This is because these two gods were seen to preside over success in the Confucianism based Imperial Examinations. The most well-known of these temples is on Hollywood Road.


Kwan Tai Temple in Sđê mê Shui Po

In Tai O, the Kwan Tai Ancient Temple (Daai6 Ou3 Gwaan1 Dai3 Gu2 Miu6 大澳關帝古廟), built in 1741 is the oldest temple in Hong Kong dedicated to lớn Kwan Tai alone. This atmospheric temple is particularly special as it contains an ancient statue of Kwan Tai made by local artisans. The largest Kwan Tai temple in Hong Kong is in Sham mê Shui Po. Built in 1891, it is an impressive sầu piece of Hong Kong temple architecture. When the temple was renovated in the 2000s, the original statue of the god was replaced with a more modern, standardised image.

Regardless of which temple you visit on Kwan Tai’s festival, you will find crowds of his faithful making offerings of roast meats, wine & incense in the hope of good fortune. Regular people, police và triad members might all be standing side by side in front of the god. All are equal in his eyes. So long as the rules of fraternity & honour are observed, Kwan Tai bestows his blessings.

Although hundreds of temples worship Kwan Tai in Hong Kong, these are insightful places khổng lồ discover him:

Tai O Kwan Tai Ancient Temple, Kat Hing Baông chồng Street, Tai O, Lantau, in the small former fisher village  Man Mo Temple, 126 Hollywood road, Sheung Wan, Hong kong Long Mu Temple,(aka Yuet Lung Sing Yuen), 15 Chi Yan Street, Peng Chau. Kwan Tai sits near the Dragon Mother, the goddess Lung Mu in the outlaying isl& of Peng ChauSđắm say Shui Po Kwan Tai Temple, 158 Hai Tan Street, Sham Shui Po, the largest temple dedicated to lớn the god 

Related articlesPeng Chau: Hong Kong’s most relaxed island communityThe Story of Kwun Yum, Hong Kong’s Mother GoddessTin Hau Festival: Celebrating the Birthday of Hong Kong’s supreme Goddess 
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