Five Tiger Generals

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Five Tiger Generals
Chinese 五虎將

The Five Tiger Generals is a popular appellation in Chinese culture for any five military generals serving under a ruler. This term is used in literature texts, plays and popular culture. In the historical context, "Five Tiger Generals" usually refers to the five best military generals serving under the ruler. The term does not appear in Chinese historical records and is not used officially.

In literature[edit]

When applied to the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, the "Five Tiger Generals" refer to five military generals from the state of Shu Han. Records of the Three Kingdoms details the biographies of Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhao Yun, Ma Chao and Huang Zhong in the same chapter. In Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, a novel romanticizing the events of the Three Kingdoms, Liu Bei, founder of Shu Han, actually bestowed the titles of "Five Tiger Generals" on these five generals.[1] The historicity of the Tiger Generals is unknown; those generals existed but it is uncertain whether they were granted the titles contemporarily or posthumously honoured as such. The term "Five Tiger Generals" is most likely a literary device used in the novel. The five tiger generals, Zhao Yun, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Ma Chao and Huang Zhong were known for their bravery. Guan Yu served as the leader of The five tiger generals. The name referred to Guan Yu and Zhang Fei as "Tiger Generals".

In Water Margin by Shi Naian, another of the Four Great Classical Novels, five of the 108 outlaws at Liangshan Marsh - Guan Sheng, Lin Chong, Qin Ming, Huyan Zhuo and Dong Ping - are called "Five Tiger Generals" of the Liangshan cavalry.

The Ming Dynasty writer Li Yutang named Di Qing, Shi Yu, Zhang Zhong, Li Yi, and Liu Qing as the "Five Tiger Generals" in his works Romance of Di Qing, The Five Tigers Conquer the West, and The Five Tigers Pacify the South.[2]

In Heroes of the Ming Dynasty, a novel romanticizing the events leading to the founding of the Ming Dynasty, Xu Da, Tang He, Chang Yuchun, Hu Dahai, and Mu Ying are named as the "Five Founding Tiger Generals of Ming".

Cultural impact[edit]

In present-day terminology, "Five Tiger Generals" can refer to any group of five that is particularly outstanding in a certain field.

Hsiao Shou-li, Chiang Wu-tung, Chiao Tsai-pao, Chen Chun-sheng, and Su Teng-wang are called "Five Tiger Generals" of Taiwanese opera.

Taiwanese politicians Kuo Yu-hsin, Li Wan-chu, Kuo Kuo-chi, Li Yuan-chan, and Wu San-lien are called the "Five Tiger Generals" of the Taiwan Provincial Consultative Council. Together with female politician Hsu Shih-hsien, the six of them are called "Five Tigers and the Phoenix".

In the 1980s and 1990s, the five TV show hosts of the Taiwanese TV channel Sanlih E-Television, He Yih-hang, Peng Chia-chia, Yang Fan, Yu Tien and Li Teng-tsai are called "Five Tiger Generals".

In the 1980s, Hong Kong TVB actors Felix Wong, Michael Miu, Kent Tong, Andy Lau and Tony Leung are called the "Five Tiger Generals". The five of them starred together in the 1991 film The Tigers.

In 2009, a Taiwanese musical band called Wu Hu Jiang was formed. The five members starred as the Five Tiger Generals of Shu in the TV series K.O.3an Guo, a parody of Romance of the Three Kingdoms in a modern-day setting.

In 2013, the MOBA game League of Legends released a skin for one of their champions (Warring Kingdoms Xin Zhao) that is based on Zhao Yun in honor of Chinese New Year.

See also[edit]