Guandi, also known as Guan Yu, was the renowned third century general of the state of Shu, and was popularized by the fourteenth century historical novel Sanguo Yan Yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms). Reputed to have been killed along with his adopted son Guanping and his trusted general Zhoucang in Jingzhou by the army of Sunquan, ruler of the state of Wu, Guandi became deified by the Sui dynasty. While his actions are reputed to be overly exaggerated in later accounts of his life, Guandi remains one of the most popular Chinese historical figures, and to this day is worshipped by Daoist and Buddhist practitioners as a guardian deity.
Compare the gilt-bronze figure of Guandi of larger size (34.8 cm.), sold at Christie's New York, 24 March 2004, lot 84.