|Water Margin character|
|Rank||94th, Level Star (地平星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends|
|Chief executioner of Liangshan|
|Origin||Prison warden and executioner|
|Ancestral home / Place of origin||Daming Prefecture (in present-day Handan, Hebei)|
|First appearance||Chapter 62|
Cai Fu is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 94th of the 108 Liangshan heroes and 58th of the 72 Earthly Fiends. He is nicknamed "Iron Arm". He shares the same nickname as the fictionalised persona of Zhou Tong, the archery teacher of Yue Fei.
Cai Fu and his younger brother, Cai Qing, are from Daming Prefecture (大名府; in present-day Handan, Hebei). Both of them work as jailers and executioners in the prison in Daming Prefecture. Cai Fu is nicknamed "Iron Arm" because of his great strength and expertise in performing smooth executions by beheading.
Lu Junyi is arrested and imprisoned after being betrayed by his adulterous wife and treacherous housekeeper, Li Gu. Li Gu bribes the Cai brothers to kill Lu Junyi in prison. Chai Jin meets them later and offers them an even larger sum of money to take good care of Lu Junyi and help him. Through the Cai brothers' intervention, Lu Junyi is spared the death penalty and is sentenced to exile on Shamen Island (沙門島; present-day Changdao County, Yantai, Shandong) instead.
Li Gu is not satisfied with Lu Junyi's fate so he bribes the guards escorting Lu to Shamen Island to kill him along the way. However, Lu Junyi is saved by his loyal servant Yan Qing, who shows up in time and kills the guards. Despite so, Lu Junyi is captured again shortly after Yan Qing saves him, and is sentenced to death. Cai Fu is assigned to be the executioner, but he deliberately delays the execution process because he intends to spare Lu Junyi. At the critical moment, Shi Xiu appears and storms the execution ground in his lone attempt to save Lu Junyi. He succeeds in freeing Lu Junyi but both of them are eventually outnumbered and captured again.
Grand Secretary Liang Shijie, the official in charge of Daming Prefecture, is afraid that the outlaws from Liangshan Marsh would attack Daming to save Lu Junyi and Shi Xiu, so he keeps them alive as hostages. The Cai brothers are tasked with watching over Lu Junyi and Shi Xiu and they treat the prisoners well.
As Liang Shijie expected, the outlaws come to attack Daming Prefecture and send spies to infiltrate the city during the Lantern Festival. Chai Jin contacts the Cai brothers and succeeds in convincing them to open the prison gates and allow Lu Junyi and Shi Xiu to escape. At the same time, the outlaws stationed outside Daming Prefecture launch an assault and manage to break through and overrun the city. Lu Junyi and Shi Xiu are saved. The Cai brothers follow the outlaws back to Liangshan and join the outlaw band.
Campaigns and death
Cai Fu becomes one of the chief executioners of Liangshan after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny. He follows the heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong. He is critically injured at the battle of Qingxi County (清溪縣; present-day Anxi County, Quanzhou, Fujian) during the campaign against the rebel leader Fang La and eventually dies from his wounds.
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- 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.