Chinese Warrior

Han Dynasty General Kwan-ti

This is a Yorkshire World Collections object, one of 100 chosen by young people aged 16-24, as part of the London Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.

This wooden figure is thought to represent General Kwan-ti as a youthful warrior. It is elaborately carved and ornamented with dragon, birds and other masks. Painted in red and gold it also has a detachable helmet and plinth.

Kwan-ti was a very famous general of the Han Dynasty which ruled from 206BC to 220AD. His success led to his deification and he is still venerated in China to this day. His admirers and devotees ranged from Emperors to the common people and his popularity never waned over the long period of time. Thousands of temples and shrines have been erected in his honour and can be seen in all parts of the country. His images and portraits adorn home shrines or walls of countless homes whether they be Taoist, Confucianist or Buddhist.

One of the most popular Chinese folk deities Kwan Ti served primarily as the god of war. However, his realm was decidedly different to the Greco-Roman concept of Ares/Mars in that he was known as one who could avert war and protect the people from its horrors.

The statue came to Bagshaw Museum under strange circumstances: it was part of a touring exhibition of objects owned by the famous expert of Chinese art and history John Hilditch. His will stipulated that wherever the collection was when he died, that institution would keep the objects. When he died in 1929, the exhibition was at Bagshaw Museum, where it has remained ever since.


Warrior - someone who has experienced battle
Plinth - a block or slab on which a statue is placed
Deification - being given the qualities of a god
Venerated - deeply respected and recognised
Waned - came to an end
Adorn - decorate
Tao-ist - a system of Chinese religion
Confucianist - keeping to the teaching of Confuscious
Buddhism - keeping to the teaching of Budda
Deity - a god or goddess
Greco-Roman - like a mixture of Greek and Roman
Ares/Mars - gods of war

Curriculum Links

KS3 Art & Design
Level 3 - Pupils will explore ideas and collect visual and other information to inspire their work.

Young people talking

What fantastic stories must have been told about this leader that he
was deified and shown looking so regal and impressive?

Look at this map of China to appreciate the vast expanse of land that General Kwan-ti ruled over from 206AD.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Bagshaw Museum | 
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