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The Story of Hua Guan Suo

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Hua Guan Suo zhuan page 1 complete

Chapter 1 of Hua Guan Suo zhuan.

The Story of Hua Guan Suo (Huā Guān Suǒ zhuán 花關索傳; literally "The biography of Flower Guan Suo") is a tale about the fictional hero Guan Suo, son of Guan Yu. It is one of the fourteen works of hitherto-unknown popular literature that were unearthed from a Ming Dynasty tomb in Jiading county near Shanghai in 1967.

The story was translated to English by Gail Oman King in 1989. Throughout the telling of twenty-four battles, the tale of the hero’s traumatic attempt to find his lost father Guan Yu and establish his legitimacy, is told.[1]

Description and AnalysisEdit

Hua Guan Suo zhuan, the story of Hua Guan Suo, is a type of popular literature called cihua 詩話[2] ("tales with doggerel"). Very little was known about this literature until the very fortunate unearthing of a Ming Dynasty tomb of Chinese noblewomen in Jiading County near Shanghai in 1967.[1]

Hua Guan Suo zhuan is made up of four parts told in alternating passages of prose and verse (a very popular form of entertainment in traditional China). Together the four parts present one continuous story, the fullest and earliest extant version of the life of Guan Suo.[3] Part 1 of the version found in the Ming Dynasty tomb states it is actually a reprint of an original work. The date of the reprint was 1478 and the reprinting was done by the Yongshun shutang 永順書堂. After examining the printing style and the illustrations it was concluded that the original copy must've been released about mid fourteenth century. The Hua Guan Suo zhuan assumably is the earliest extant example of prosimetric cihua.[4]

According to Hua Guan Suo zhuan, Guan Suo was a son of Guan Yu and brother of Guan Ping. However, the standard history of the Three Kingdoms, the Records of the Three Kingdoms by Chen Shou and annotated by Pei Songzhi in the fifth century, says nothing about any son of Guan Yu with the name Suo 索. Only two sons, Ping and Xing 興, are mentioned.[5] The name Guan Suo does not appear in texts until the Song Dynasty (960-1279), but from there on whenever the name is mentioned it does not refer to Guan Yu's son, but to nicknames of bandits or wrestlers.[6]

The earliest occurrence of someone by the name of Guan Suo in connection with the Three Kingdoms period occurs in Sanguo zhi pinghua 三國志平話, a fictionalized account of the Three Kingdoms.[6] In it, one Guan Suo appears as a participant of Zhuge Liang's campaign against the Southern Barbarians.[7]

Late in the sixteenth century Guan Suo made his way to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and various editions thereafter. He usually plays one of two roles:

1. Guan Suo participates in Zhuge Liang's southern campaign against Meng Huo. He makes only few appearances and later disappears from the story. This story can be found in the 1591 Mao Zonggang edition of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, plus many others.[8]
2. Guan Suo is called Hua Guan Suo and appears on the scene before the death of his father and fights in his fathers army. He becomes governor of Yunnan 雲南 and later dies there of malaria.[8]

The second version of Guan Suo's inclusion in Romance of the Three Kingdoms can be dated back to 1592, but only few decades later Guan Suo was removed as a major character in them and the editions themselves fell into oblivion. Guan Suo thus became known only for the meager role allotted to him in the 1591 Mao Zonggang edition of the novel, that of a minor general in one of the most fictionalized accounts of a battle, which historically was just a mop-up operation.[9]

Read The Story of Hua Guan Suo onlineEdit

Below you can read the Gail Oman King translation of Hua Guan Suo zhuan.
The Story of Hua Guan Suo cover

English version cover

(Text: TigerTally; images: Zantam03)

卷1 - How Hua Guan Suo got his start in life
卷2 - How Hua Guan Suo claimed his patrimony
卷3 - How Hua Guan Suo subdued Xichuan
卷4 - How Hua Guan Suo was sent away to Yunnan

NotesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Heissig, "Tracing Some Mongol Oral Motifs in a Chinese Prosimetric Ming Novel of 1478" in Asian Folklore Studies volume 53, page 228
  2. King. The Story of Hua Guan Suo, page 5
  3. King. The Story of Hua Guan Suo, page 4
  4. King. The Story of Hua Guan Suo, page 7
  5. King. The Story of Hua Guan Suo, page 15
  6. 6.0 6.1 King. The Story of Hua Guan Suo, page 16
  7. King. The Story of Hua Guan Suo, page 17
  8. 8.0 8.1 King. The Story of Hua Guan Suo, page 21
  9. King. The Story of Hua Guan Suo, page 22

SourcesEdit

  • Heissig, Walther. "Tracing Some Mongol Oral Motifs in a Chinese Prosimetric Ming Novel of 1478" in Asian Folklore Studies, Volume 53, 1994: 227-254.
  • King, Gail Oman. The Story of Hua Guan Suo. Arizona State University Center for Asian Studies, 1989.

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