|Water Margin character|
|Rank||20th, Speed Star (天速星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Scouting chief of Liangshan|
|Origin||Chief warden of the prison in Jiangzhou (east of present-day Chongzuo, Guangxi)|
|First appearance||Chapter 38|
Dai Zong is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 20th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Magic Traveller".
Water Margin describes Dai Zong having a broad face, a squarish mouth and a lean body. He has a special magical ability which allows him to travel long distances at superhuman speed and stamina. To travel 500 li, he will need to tie two Taoist magic talismans to his legs and to travel 800 li he will require four talismans. He is nicknamed "Magic Traveller" for his special ability.
Dai Zong is first introduced in the novel as the chief warden of the prison in Jiangzhou (江州; east of present-day Chongzuo, Guangxi). He is a friend of Wu Yong and he takes good care of Song Jiang when the latter is exiled to Jiangzhou. He strikes up a friendship with Song Jiang and Song leads a comfortable life in prison. Once, Song Jiang writes a poem advocating rebellion against the government when he was drunk and is later arrested. Dai Zong suggests to Song Jiang to behave like a lunatic to trick the governor, Cai Jiu. However, Huang Wenbing notices and points out to Cai Jiu that Song Jiang is feigning madness. He proposes the use of torture to force a confession out of Song Jiang. Song Jiang eventually succumbs under torture and admits to plotting a rebellion against the government.
Dai Zong tries his best to help Song Jiang but in vain. Cai Jiu then assigns Dai Zong to send a letter to his father, the Imperial Tutor Cai Jing, in Dongjing (present-day Kaifeng, Henan) for his opinion on how to deal with Song Jiang. Dai Zong brings the letter to Liangshan Marsh instead to seek help from the outlaws. He is drugged by Zhu Gui near Liangshan, who is unaware of his identity, and brought to Liangshan. On Liangshan, Wu Yong recognises him and learns that Song Jiang has been arrested. Wu Yong invites Xiao Rang and Jin Dajian to forge a letter from Cai Jing, ordering Cai Jiu to have Song Jiang escorted to Dongjing. Along the way, the outlaws will then attack the guards and rescue Song Jiang.
However, Jin Dajian makes a mistake with the seal on the letter and the fraud is exposed later when Huang Wenbing reads the letter in detail and points out the error. Cai Jiu is furious and he orders Dai Zong's arrest. Dai Zong is severely beaten up and thrown into prison. Cai Jiu then sentences Song Jiang and Dai Zong to death. Wu Yong realised the mistake in time and he drafts a plan for the Liangshan outlaws to storm the execution ground and save Song Jiang and Dai Zong. Both Song Jiang and Dai Zong are rescued and brought back to Liangshan safely.
Becoming an outlaw
Dai Zong becomes the chief of Liangshan's scouting team and is responsible for updating Liangshan's forces on the enemy's situation during battles. He works as Liangshan's messenger as well. Once, Song Jiang contracted a severe disease due to a tumour on his back and is in critical condition. Zhang Shun goes to find the famous physician An Daoquan to heal Song Jiang and Dai Zong uses his magic ability to transport An Daoquan swiftly back to Liangshan. Song Jiang is cured in time and survives. In another incident, Dai Zong goes to find Gongsun Sheng together with Li Kui and brings Gongsun back to Liangshan successfully. During the battle with the Zeng family, Dai Zong makes great contributions by speeding towards the village and back again several times to gather information about the enemy and eventually paves the way to victory for Liangshan.
After the Liangshan outlaws are granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong, Dai Zong follows them on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces. He makes great contributions to the nation and is one of the few lucky survivors after the campaigns. He is appointed as an official in Yanzhou but decides to resign after holding office for a short period of time. He goes to a temple and leads a reclusive life there for a few months before his death.
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- Buck, Pearl. All Men are Brothers. Moyer Bell Ltd, 2006. ISBN 9781559213035.
- Zhang, Lin Ching. Biographies of Characters in Water Margin. Writers Publishing House, 2009. ISBN 978-7506344784.
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- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.