Romance of Three Kingdoms stories


By Ang Yik Han


tomb panel (photo: Ang Yik Han)


A panel from a tomb near the main gate with a story from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Guan Yu, seeking his elder sworn brother Liu Bei after leaving Premier Cao, happened to run into his other sworn brother Zhang Fei. Zhang Fei was wary however on account of Guan Yu’s long stay with Cao Cao and attacked him. Although Guan Yu protested his innocence, Zhang Fei did not believe him and told him to slay one of Cao Cao’s generals who happened to be pursuing Guan Yu and arrived then on the scene, within 3 beats of the drum. Guan Yu accomplished it within a single beat and the brothers had a tearful reunion.
As this episode took place at an old town, it is also known as “encounter at the old town”(古城会).


The other panel:


tomb panel (photo: Ang Yik Han)

The other panel from the same tomb with another famous Three Kingdoms story:

Zhuge Liang found himself in a difficult position when Sima Yi, the Wei Premier, overcame the main Shu army and threatened his headquarters in a small walled town with overpowering odds. Reacting quicky, Zhuge Liang ordered all the gates opened and small groups of old soldiers to dress as sweepers and work at each of the gates. Escorted by 2 attendants, he sat on top of the city wall, calmly playing his zither. At the sight of this apparently defenceless town, Sima Yi immediately suspected a ruse and when he could not hear any hint of distress in Zhuge Liang’s zither playing, he hurriedly retreated with his army. This double bluff is known as the “empty town strategem” (空城计).


Other posts by Yik Han on tomb aesthetics:

Mosaic Sculptures

Door Protectors

The Four Professions

Longevity Plea

Lion Guardians

See Tiong Wah’s Tomb Panels