|Water Margin character|
|Nickname||"Sacred Handed Scholar"
|Rank||46th, Literature Star (地文星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends|
|Chief secretary of Liangshan|
|Origin||Scholar and calligrapher|
|Ancestral home / Place of origin||Jizhou (around present-day Jining and Heze, Shandong)|
|First appearance||Chapter 39|
Xiao Rang is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 46th of the 108 Liangshan heroes and 10th of the 72 Earthly Fiends. He is nicknamed "Sacred Handed Scholar".
Xiao Rang is a scholar from Jizhou (濟州; around present-day Jining and Heze, Shandong). He excels in calligraphy and has a reputation for his ability to imitate the handwriting of the four most famous calligraphers in his time – Su Dongpo, Huang Tingjian, Mi Fu and Cai Jing. He is thus nicknamed "Sacred Handed Scholar". Besides achieving success in the field of scholastic and literary arts, Xiao Rang is also skilled in martial arts. He is a close friend of the Liangshan outlaws' chief strategist, Wu Yong.
Becoming an outlaw
Song Jiang is arrested and imprisoned in Jiangzhou (江州; east of present-day Chongzuo, Guangxi) after writing a seditious poem while he was drunk. Dai Zong follows Wu Yong's instructions and travels to Jizhou to seek help from Xiao Rang and bring him to Liangshan. Jin Dajian is also invited to join Liangshan as well. Xiao Rang helps the outlaws forge a letter in the handwriting of Cai Jing, while Jin Dajian carves an official seal from Cai Jing to be stamped on the letter. In the letter, Cai Jing asks his son, Cai Jiu (the governor of Jiangzhou), to have Song Jiang escorted to the capital to await further action. The outlaws will then ambush the convoy and rescue Song Jiang along the way.
Initially, everything goes as planned and even Cai Jiu is unable to tell the difference between his father's and Xiao Rang's handwriting. He believes that the letter is genuine until Huang Wenbing spots a mistake with the seal and exposes the fraud. Cai Jiu is furious and he orders Song Jiang and Dai Zong to be executed immediately. Wu Yong detected the mistake after the letter was sent out, and had alerted the outlaws to prepare to rescue Song Jiang and Dai Zong. The outlaws storm the execution ground and succeed in saving the two men in time.
Xiao Rang becomes the chief secretary of Liangshan after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Liangshan heroes. He is tasked with writing the rules and regulations of Liangshan. Sometimes, he is also in charge of overseeing the construction of buildings and defences on Liangshan. Emperor Huizong sends Grand Marshal Gao Qiu to lead an army to eradicate the outlaws. The outlaws score a major victory over the imperial forces by destroying Gao Qiu's entire fleet of battleships and capturing him. Gao Qiu promises to help the outlaws convey their desire to be granted amnesty to the emperor and is released.
Xiao Rang and Yue He follow Gao Qiu back to the capital as Liangshan's envoys. However, Gao Qiu breaks his promise and has both of them imprisoned in his residence. Dai Zong and Yan Qing rescue them later. Xiao Rang follows the heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by the emperor. During the campaign against the rebel leader Wang Qing, Xiao Rang, Jin Dajian and Pei Xuan are captured by Wang Qing's general Liang Yong. They are subjected to torture but refuse to surrender. Later, Liang Yong's subordinate betrays him, kills him and frees the three men.
After Wang Qing's defeat, Emperor Huizong orders the Liangshan heroes to destroy the rebel forces led by Fang La in the Jiangnan region. One day before the Liangshan forces embark on the campaign, Xiao Rang is ordered to return to the capital and does not participate in this final campaign. He works in Cai Jing's office as Cai's private secretary and scribe for the rest of his life.
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 93. 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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