《CHINA DAILY 中国日报》6月29日刊载 Ancient general is a cut above 文章标题：《威震华夏的古代将军》
The world’s largest traditional Chinese paper cut-out attracted hundreds and thousands of locals at the IDCC mall in Shah Alam, capital city of the state of Selangor in Malaysia, on June 23.
Visitors needed to take several minutes to walk past the red-and-white artwork. At more than 550 square meters, the cut-out covers an area the size of a basketball court.
"We made about 40,000 cuts over the course of several months to make one piece of Great Wall paper cut-out," explains artist Gao Xiaodong. He made this Guinness World Record-holding creation with his wife Yan Fang three years ago in North China’s Shanxi province. "But actually, this is the artwork’s first public exhibition around the world," Gao says.
The couple chose a strong starring cast to feature in their paper-cut artwork. As well as the Great Wall, one leading light is Confucius, the other is Guan Gong, a Chinese general during the Three Kingdoms period of more than 1,700 years ago.
Like King Arthur in the West, Guan Gong has been a popular historic hero among Chinese people for many centuries.
And although he is a figure from history, Guan Gong is also viewed as a deity in Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Across Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, he is still worshipped in home shrines and Chinese shops and restaurants.
The character has also popped up in some online games and manga stories popular with younger people.
Guan Gong’s continued popularity in the region explains why Soh Kok Hiang, chairman of a Malaysia-based Guan Gong cultural association, decided to bring the paper-cutting artwork to the city to mark the country’s first International Guan Gong Cultural Festival.
Over 300 people from China, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries and regions attended the event to discuss the positive effects of the spirit of Guan Gong in modern society.
During his opening speech, Soh said that Guan Gong was renowned for his righteousness. Soo Khin Wah, a retired academic from the University of Malaysia, further pointed out that more efforts are needed to understand the key tenet of Guan Gong culture – reciprocity.
After conducting research on sixteen Guan Gong temples and shrines in Malaysia and Singapore between 2009 and 2010, Soo found that most of the locals worshiped Guan as a wealth god, since the idol is perceived to bless the morally upright, help connect people, reduce costs and bring win-win deals.
"There is an old saying in Cantonese that ‘your teeth can be used as gold’," says Soo, meaning that keeping promises and remaining loyal are important policies underlying many successful businesses.
Guan Zhijie from central China’s Henan Province claims to be a descendent of the historical general. "I founded a website to promote my ancestor’s traditional values and norms in such a competitive society," the 49-year-old says.
At the event’s academic forum on June 24, Mei Hong, an assistant professor at Southwest Jiaotong University in Sichuan, said that Guan Gong worship is a significant phenomenon along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping initiated the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to improve connectivity across the region. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on April 28 that his country is supportive of the Belt and Road initiative.
"Ports on the Malay Peninsula used to be important voyage depots of China’s fleet during the early Ming Dynasty", Mei said, "It not only unites all overseas Chinese together by common cultural experiences, but benefits the development of those countries and regions."