Li Li (Water Margin)
|Water Margin character|
|Nickname||"Life Taking Judge"
|Rank||96th, Slave Star (地奴星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends|
|Scout leader of Liangshan|
|Ancestral home / Place of origin||Luzhou (present-day Hefei, Anhui)|
|First appearance||Chapter 36|
Li Li is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 96th of the 108 Liangshan heroes and 60th of the 72 Earthly Fiends. He is nicknamed "Life Taking Judge".
The novel describes Li Li as a man with a red beard and fiery round eyes like those of a tiger's. He is nicknamed "Life Taking Judge". He is from Luzhou (蘆州; present-day Hefei, Anhui), but lives in Jieyang Ridge (揭陽嶺; believed to be in present-day Jiujiang, Jiangxi), near the Xunyang River, with his elder brother, Li Jun.
The Li brothers rob unsuspecting travellers for a living: Li Jun pretends to be a boatman who ferries people across the Xunyang River and robs them when they are far away from the riverbank; Li Li runs an inn at the riverbank, serves his guests food and drinks spiked with drugs, and robs them when they are unconscious. They are close friends of the Tong brothers (Tong Wei and Tong Meng) and run their illegal "business" together at Jieyang Ridge.
When Song Jiang is exiled to Jiangzhou (江州; east of present-day Chongzuo, Guangxi), he passes by Jieyang Ridge and takes a rest in Li Li's inn. Li Li uses drugged wine to knock Song Jiang out and is about to rob him when Li Jun appears and stops his brother. Li Jun recognises Song Jiang as the generous and chivalrous hero they have long heard about and have been wanting to meet, so he tells his brother to revive Song. The Li brothers apologise to Song Jiang when he regains consciousness and befriend him.
After leaving Li Li's inn, Song Jiang runs into trouble with the Mu brothers (Mu Hong and Mu Chun) in the nearby Jieyang Town, he flees from the town and boards Zhang Heng's boat in desperation. Zhang Heng, like Li Jun, is also a pirate in disguise as a ferryman and he wants to kill and rob Song Jiang when his boat reaches the middle of the river. Luckily, Li Jun shows up in time, stops Zhang Heng, and introduces Song Jiang to Zhang and the Mu brothers. Zhang Heng and the Mu brothers are stunned when they learn of Song Jiang's true identity, and they apologise to him and treat him like an honoured guest. Later, they see him off on his journey to Jiangzhou.
In Jiangzhou, Song Jiang gets into trouble again after writing a seditious poem while he was drunk, and ends up being arrested and sentenced to death. However, the outlaws from Liangshan Marsh show up in Jiangzhou, storm the execution ground, and rescue Song Jiang. Li Jun, Li Li and the others meet Song Jiang and the outlaws at the riverbank and ferry them back to the safety of Liangshan Marsh, after which they join the outlaw band at Liangshan.
Campaigns and death
Li Li becomes one of the scout leaders of Liangshan after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny. He is stationed in the tavern north of Liangshan and is in charge of making preparations to receive and host the envoys sent to Liangshan by the imperial court. He follows the heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong. During the final campaign against the rebel leader Fang La, he is severely injured in the battle of Qingxi County (清溪縣; present-day Anxi County, Quanzhou, Fujian) and dies from his wounds later.
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 193. EPB Publishers Pte Ltd, 1992. ISBN 9971-0-0252-3.
- 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.
- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.
- Miyamotois, Yoko. Water Margin: Chinese Robin Hood and His Bandits.
- (Japanese) Ichisada, Miyazaki. Suikoden: Kyoko no naka no Shijitsu. Chuo Koronsha, 1993. ISBN 978-4122020559.
- Shibusawa, Kou. Bandit Kings of Ancient China. KOEI, 1989.