|Water Margin character|
|Nickname||"Red Haired Devil"
|Rank||21st, Deviance Star (天異星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Infantry leader of Liangshan|
|First appearance||Chapter 14|
Liu Tang is a fictional character in the Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 21st of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Red Haired Devil".
Liu Tang is a native of Dongluzhou. The Water Margin describes him as a muscular man with a dark complexion, a wide face, a red birthmark on his face, and crimson hair. He is nicknamed "Red Haired Devil" for his birthmark and unique hair color. Liu Tang is an excellent fighter and specialises in using the Pudao. He wanders around the jianghu in his early years and does some illegal trading in Shandong and Hebei.
Robbing the convoy of birthday gifts
Liu Tang is the first person to hear news of the convoy of birthday gifts for the Imperial Tutor, Cai Jing. The convoy is being escorted to Dongjing (present-day Kaifeng, Henan) by Yang Zhi and his soldiers in disguise. Liu Tang rushes off to inform his friend Chao Gai in Eastern Creek Village, but becomes drunk on the way and falls asleep in a rundown temple. He is arrested by the constable Lei Heng and his patrol, who mistake him for a wanted criminal. Lei Heng and his men stop by Chao Gai's village later for a rest and Chao recognises Liu Tang. Chao Gai lies to Lei Heng that Liu Tang is his nephew and requests that Lei release Liu, and Lei obliges. However, Liu Tang is still angry with Lei Heng for arresting him earlier for no reason. He tries to sneak up on Lei Heng and they engage in a fight. Chao Gai appears on time and defuses the conflict.
Liu Tang, Chao Gai, Wu Yong, Gongsun Sheng and the Ruan brothers disguise themselves as date traders and trick Yang Zhi and his soldiers into drinking drugged wine. When Yang Zhi and his men become unconscious, the seven men make off with the birthday gifts worth a large sum of money. Grand Secretary Liang Shijie (the son-in-law of Cai Jing, who prepared the gifts) is furious and he orders the local government to arrest the robbers. Liu Tang and his companions defeat the soldiers led by He Tao near Liangshan Marsh and flee to Liangshan for refuge after their victory.
On Liangshan, the incompetent and selfish chief Wang Lun refuses to allow the seven men to join his outlaw band. Wu Yong instigates Lin Chong into killing Wang Lun and Chao Gai is then nominated to be the new chief. Liu Tang takes the fifth position of leadership in Liangshan. Chao Gai is grateful to Song Jiang for alerting them of the danger earlier and he sends Liu Tang to pass Song a letter and some gold pieces to express his gratitude. When Song Jiang returns home after spending a short time outside as a fugitive, he is arrested by the authorities for killing Yan Poxi. Liu Tang attempts to rescue Song Jiang but Song strongly refuses to leave with Liu and surrenders himself.
Campaigns and death
In the battle of Dongchang Prefecture, Liu Tang fights with "Featherless Arrow" Zhang Qing and is defeated. Zhang Qing stuns Liu Tang with his "flying stones" technique and Liu falls off his horse and is captured. Liu Tang is rescued after the outlaws defeat Zhang Qing and break into Dongchang Prefecture.
Liu Tang becomes one of the infantry leaders of Liangshan after the Grand Assembly. He follows the heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by the emperor. During the Fang La campaign, Liu Tang is assigned to attack the enemy city of Hangzhou. He sees that the gates are wide open and charges in, eager to win the top credit for the victory. He is unaware that it is a trap and is crushed to death by a falling beam. He is posthumously granted the title of "Martial Gentleman of Loyalty" (忠武郎) by the emperor in recognition of his contributions.
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 43. 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.
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