I didn't know anything about this image when I first used it on the Java Games Programming Techniques Web page. I found it on a CD of Chinese images, with no accompanying documentation; I just liked the picture! My thanks go to W.B. (firstname.lastname@example.org) for telling me that it's a statue of Guan Yu.
Guan Yu (160-219 AD) was a famous general of the Shu Kingdom, during the Han Dynasty in the Three Kingdoms Period. He's remembered for his loyalty, faithfulness, boldness and power, and regarded as a peerless hero, an incredible fighter. He is the patron saint of Chinese martial arts. His exploints are the stuff of legend, and glorified in the Chinese classic, Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
He was respected as "Wu Sheng" by Chinese emperors. Temples were built for him throughout the country, and he was honored as a Buddha. Portraits or pictures of Guan Yu can be found on the doors of Chinese houses during the Lunar New Year, as a form of protection.
He was born Guan Yunchang, and is variously called General Kwan, Lord Kwan, Kwan the Noble, Guan Gung, Guan Di, and General Quan.
Many Japanese games use a Guan Yu character.