|Water Margin character|
|Rank||34th, Savage Star (天暴星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Infantry leader of Liangshan|
|Ancestral home / Place of origin||Dengzhou (in present-day eastern Shandong)|
|First appearance||Chapter 49|
|Weapon||Bronze forked spear (渾鐵點鋼叉)|
Xie Zhen is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 34th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Double-headed Serpent".
The novel describes Xie Zhen as seven chi tall, with a purplish face, wide shoulders and a narrow waist. He dons trousers made of leopard skin and wraps a cloth made of tiger skin around his torso. He has a reputation for being brave and daring. He can travel in harsh conditions, scale mountains and climb dangerous cliffs. He is highly skilled in martial arts and carries a bronze forked spear as his weapon. He is nicknamed "Double-headed serpent".
Xie Zhen and his younger brother, Xie Bao, are the best hunters in Dengzhou (登州; in present-day eastern Shandong). The magistrate commissions them to, within three days, hunt down a ferocious tiger which has been terrorising Dengzhou's residents. On the second night, the Xie brothers track down the tiger, corner it on a cliff, and fire poison arrows at it. The wounded tiger falls off the cliff and lands in the backyard of Squire Mao's residence. Unknown to the Xie brothers, Squire Mao had ordered his servants to bring the dead tiger to the magistrate to claim the reward and accuse the Xie brothers of attempting to rob him. The Xie brothers are arrested by the magistrate's men when they show up at Squire Mao's house to retrieve the dead tiger. Squire Mao also bribes the magistrate to sentence the Xie brothers to death.
Yue He, the jailer in charge of watching over the Xie brothers, is a relative of Sun Li, a cousin-in-law of the Xie brothers. He informs Sun Li, Sun Xin (Sun Li's brother), Gu Dasao (Sun Xin's wife) and their friends Zou Run and Zou Yuan about the situation and implores them to save the Xie brothers. With Yue He's help, Sun Li and the others stage a raid on the prison in Dengzhou and successfully rescue the Xie brothers. They kill Squire Mao and his family in revenge and then flee to Liangshan Marsh to join the outlaw band there.
During the battle between the Liangshan outlaws and forces from the Zhu Family Village, Sun Li and his companions (including the Xie brothers) volunteer to serve as spies for Liangshan inside the village by pretending to come to the Zhus' aid. The success of their espionage mission is instrumental to the outlaws' eventual victory over the Zhus.
Campaigns and death
The Xie brothers become leaders in the Liangshan infantry after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny. They follow the Liangshan heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong.
During the campaign against the rebel leader Fang La, the Xie brothers disguise themselves as hunters and infiltrate the enemy-controlled Black Dragon Ridge (烏龍嶺; northeast of present-day Meicheng Town, Jiande, Hangzhou, Zhejiang) to scout the territory for their Liangshan comrades. While climbing up a cliff, they are discovered by enemy soldiers, who attempt to capture them by entangling them with hooks. Xie Zhen is caught by the hooks and tries to free himself by cutting the ropes connected to the hooks, but ends up falling off the cliff to his death. Xie Bao is crushed to death by the boulders and other debris thrown down by the enemy.
- List of Water Margin minor characters#Xie brothers' story for a list of supporting minor characters from Xie Zhen's story.
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 69. 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.
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