|Water Margin character|
|Also known as||
|Rank||6th, Majestic Star (天雄星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Right General of the Five Tiger Generals of Liangshan|
|Origin||Lance instructor of the 800,000 Imperial Guards|
|Hometown||Dongjing (present-day Kaifeng, Henan)|
|First appearance||Chapter 7|
|Weapon||8-foot-long (2.4 m) Snake Spear (丈八蛇矛); Pudao (朴刀)|
Lin Chong is a fictional character in the Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 6th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Panther Head". In the world of published fiction, he is a former student of Zhou Tong.
Lin Chong is similar in appearance to Zhang Fei except that he sports a different style of facial hair. He stands just over six chi, with glaring eyes and a head like a panther's, thus his nickname "Panther Head". Before becoming an outlaw, Lin Chong served as a martial arts instructor of the 800,000 strong Imperial Guards.
Framed and exiled
Once, Lin Chong meets Lu Zhishen while accompanying his wife to the temple and becomes sworn brothers with Lu. His wife catches the eye of Gao Yanei, the lecherous foster son of Grand Marshal Gao Qiu. Gao Yanei tries to molest Lin Chong's wife but Lin appears on time and stops Gao. Since then, Gao Yanei becomes obsessed with Lin Chong's wife and wants to have her for himself. He enlists the help of Lin Chong's friend Lu Qian, asking Lu Qian to distract Lin Chong by asking him out for drinks. Gao Yanei then tricks Lin Chong's wife to a house and tries to rape her there. Lin Chong's servant alerts him in time and Lin rushes there and saves his wife from Gao Yanei's sexual advances. Gao Yanei escapes in a frenzy.
Gao Yanei is adamant that he gets Lin Chong's wife so he asks his foster father for help. Gao Qiu sells a precious saber to Lin Chong through a weapon seller and then requests for Lin's presence in his residence under the pretext of seeing Lin's new weapon. Lin Chong is tricked into entering the White Tiger Hall (白虎節堂) while carrying the weapon. Important meetings are held in the hall and weapons are not permitted inside. Unfortunately, Lin Chong is caught having a weapon in his possession while inside the hall and he is arrested.
Lin Chong is framed for attempting to assassinate a grand marshal and is sentenced to face-tattooing and exiled to Cangzhou. Gao Qiu bribes the guards escorting Lin Chong there to kill him along the way. Lu Zhishen follows Lin Chong secretly and saves him from death in Wild Boar Forest. Lin Chong persuades Lu Zhishen not to kill the guards, saying that they had no choice but to follow orders. After giving the guards a display of his strength by knocking down a tree, Lu Zhishen bids farewell to Lin Chong and returns to Kaifeng. Fearful for their lives, the guards escort Lin Chong to Cangzhou without causing further problems. While in Cangzhou, Lin Chong meets and befriends Chai Jin, who provides him with silver to bribe the jailers in the Cangzhou prison to make Lin's stay there more comfortable. However, Gao Qiu is dissatisfied with Lin Chong's fate and sends Lu Qian to Cangzhou to kill Lin.
Burning of the fodder depot
Lu Qian bribes the chief warden to assign Lin Chong to oversee a fodder depot. The warden tells Lin Chong that he wants to improve Lin's living conditions out of respect for Chai Jin. Later, Lu Qian and the warden set fire to the depot in an attempt to kill Lin. However, Lin Chong is unharmed as he has taken shelter in a nearby temple after his hut collapsed under the heavy snowfall. Lin Chong hears voices outside the temple and recognizes Lu Qian's voice. He rushes out and kills Lu Qian and his accomplices. After that, he severs their heads and offers them as a sacrifice in front of the deity statue in the temple. Lin Chong then abandons the depot, which has become a fiery inferno. After some time, he chances upon a house and forcibly takes wine from the men inside. The men find Lin Chong drunk and unconscious in the snow later and carry him back to a manor, which turns out to be Chai Jin's residence.
Becoming an outlaw
Chai Jin recommends Lin Chong to join the outlaws at Liangshan Marsh by writing a letter to Wang Lun, the chief of Liangshan. Wang Lun is selfish and he fears that Lin Chong will become a threat to his position as chief. He tries to send Lin Chong away with gifts, but Lin protests strongly that he has nowhere else to go. Wang Lun agrees to let Lin Chong join Liangshan if he can kill a man and present his head within three days. Lin Chong is able unable to catch anyone passing by Liangshan on the first two days, but meets Yang Zhi on the third day and fights with him. Wang Lun appears and stops the fight. He is impressed with Yang Zhi's skill and offers to let Yang join Liangshan but Yang refuses. Wang Lun eventually allows Lin Chong to join Liangshan.
When the "Righteous Seven" led by Chao Gai come to Liangshan for refuge, Wang Lun tries to send them away again with gifts and by using the same words he used on Lin Chong earlier. Lin Chong becomes even more frustrated with Wang Lun for his selfishness and refusal to allow others to join Liangshan. Lin Chong is instigated by Wu Yong into killing Wang Lun, and Chao Gai is then nominated to be the new chief. Lin Chong takes the fourth position of leadership, after Wu Yong and Gongsun Sheng.
Lin Chong becomes one of the Five Tiger Generals of the Liangshan cavalry after the Grand Assembly in chapter 71. His prowess in battle is never doubted, and when combined with his sense of loyalty and courage, becomes instrumental in the various victories of Liangshan over its enemies.
In the marine battle between Liangshan and the imperial army led by Gao Qiu, the imperials are defeated and Gao Qiu is captured. Contrary to many depictions in popular culture, however, Lin Chong does not seek vengeance on Gao Qiu. Both Lin Chong and Yang Zhi come to believe their fates were predestined long before Gao Qiu's defeat. The 120-chapter version of Water Margin describes Lin Chong and Yang Zhi glaring at Gao Qiu as he enters the banquet hall, though the earlier 100-chapter version of the novel relates nothing at all concerning Lin Chong's actions while Gao Qiu is being held at the outlaw stronghold. Song Jiang treats Gao Qiu like a guest and intends to release him in the narrow hope that he will assist the outlaws in their appeal for amnesty.
After the Liangshan outlaws succeed in obtaining amnesty, they are sent on expeditions against the Liao invaders and the rebel forces of Tian Hu, Wang Qing, and Fang La. Lin Chong follows the heroes on their campaigns and makes numerous contributions by defeating several of the best enemy warriors in battle. On the verge of departing for the capital after the defeat of Fang La, Lin Chong is stricken by paralysis. He dies six months later under the care of Wu Song at Liuhe Pagoda in Hangzhou, where Lu Zhishen died six months earlier.
- List of Water Margin minor characters#Lin Chong's story for a list of supporting minor characters from Lin Chong's story.
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 13. 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.
- Shibusawa, Kou. Bandit Kings of Ancient China, pages 55–56, 71, 74–76, 80, 90, and 93. KOEI, 1989.
- (Japanese) Ichisada, Miyazaki. Suikoden: Kyoko no naka no Shijitsu. Chuo Koronsha, 1993. ISBN 978-4122020559.
- Miyamotois, Yoko. Water Margin: Chinese Robin Hood and His Bandits.
- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.