Fang La

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Fang.
Fang La
Traditional Chinese 方臘
Simplified Chinese 方腊

Fang La (died 1121) was Chinese Manichaean leader who led a rebellion against the Song dynasty. He is featured as one of the antagonists and nemeses of the 108 Liangshan heroes in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature.


Fang La was from Shezhou (present-day She County, Anhui). However, some claimed that he was from Qingxi, Muzhou (present-day Chun'an County, Hangzhou). In 1120, he led an uprising against the Song Empire in Qixian Village, Shezhou. Others claimed that he started the rebellion in Wannian Village, Chun'an County. Fang La's forces conquered Hangzhou and subsequently took control over parts of present-day Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and Jiangxi, with a total of 52 counties and six administrative divisions.

In 1121, the Song imperial court sent a general, Wang Yuan, to lead an army to crush the rebellion. Wang Yuan's subordinate, Han Shizhong, disguised himself, infiltrated Qingxi and captured Fang La. Later, Xin Xingzong, the defending general of Zhongzhou, led his army to block Qingxi's exit route and took control of Qingxi. Fang La and 52 of his subordinates were captured and escorted to the Song capital, Kaifeng, by Tong Guan. Four months later, Fang La was executed in Kaifeng for treason.

By 1132–1133 or later, the rebellion was linked to Manichaeism. Though not originally connected, in the public and historical conscience it became confused with the Taizhou unrest of April–June 1121, where Manichaeism was widespread.[1]

In fiction[edit]

Fang La
Water Margin character
Emperor of Fang La forces
Ancestral home / Place of origin Shezhou (present-day She County, Anhui)
First appearance Chapter 110
Simplified Chinese 方腊
Traditional Chinese 方臘
Pinyin Fāng Là
Wade–Giles Fang La

The classical novel Water Margin presents a semi-fictional account of Fang La and his battle with the Liangshan outlaws. The outlaws are granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong of Song after defeating the Song imperial army five times. The emperor sends the Liangshan heroes on military campaigns to suppress rebel forces within the empire and defeat the Liao Empire in the north. Fang La is one of the rebel leaders based in the Jiangnan region.

Whilst the Liangshan forces suffered hardly any casualties in the campaigns against the Liao Empire, Tian Hu and Wang Qing, the campaign against Fang La proved to be calamitous. 59 of the original 108 heroes were killed in action, mostly by Fang's warriors, whose combat skills and abilities rival the best of Liangshan. Unlike the other rebels who do not have good leadership and experience, Fang La has rebelled for a long time and rivals the power of the Liangshan heroes.

Fang La is eventually captured by the Liangshan heroes after an elaborate infiltration scheme involving Chai Jin and Yan Qing. During his escape attempt, he is defeated by Lu Zhishen and escorted back to the capital by imperial forces under the command of Tong Guan. Four months later, Fang La is found guilty of treason and is executed by slow slicing in Kaifeng.

Fang La forces[edit]


  • Fang Tianding (方天定) is Fang La's eldest son and crown prince.
  • Fang Jinzhi (方金芝) is Fang La's daughter and princess. She marries Ke Yin. She commits suicide by hanging herself after the fall of Fang La's palace in the final battle.
  • Fang Jie (方傑) is Fang La's nephew.
  • Ke Yin (柯引) is Fang La's son-in-law. He is actually Chai Jin in undercover.

Premiers, civilian officials, magicians[edit]

  • Lou Minzhong (婁敏中) is the left premier of Fang La's kingdom. Originally a teacher, Lou Minzhong supported Fang La during his early stages of rebellion and rose through the ranks. He refers Ke Yin (Chai Jin's undercover identity) to Fang La after being pleased with Ke's appearance, wisdom and personality. He kills Liangshan's Ruan Xiaowu after discovering Ruan's undercover identity as a mole attempting to sabotage Fang La's navy. He commits suicide after Fang La's fortress was taken by the Song army in the final battle.
  • Zu Shiyuan (祖世遠) is the right premier of Fang La's kingdom. He suggests with Shi Bao and Deng Yuanjue to Fang La to send reinforcements to Muzhou when it is besieged by Liangshan forces, as it is a key barrier to Fang's palace. However Fang La cannot relocate any soldiers and refuses to send his royal palace army to help defend Muzhou. This resulted in the fall of Muzhou and Zu Shiyuan is captured by the Liangshan heroes.
  • Bao Daoyi (包道乙) is a Taoist magician serving under Fang La.
  • Zheng Biao (鄭彪) is Bao Daoyi's student.
  • Deng Yuanjue (鄧元覺) is Fang La's royal advisor.
  • Wang Yin (王寅) is Fang La's secretary of military affairs.


  • Shi Bao (石寶) and deputies:
    • Wen Kerang (溫克讓)
    • Zhao Yi (趙毅)
    • Leng Gong (冷恭)
    • Wang Ren (王仁)
    • Zhang Daoyuan (張道原)
    • Wu Zhi (吳值)
    • Lian Ming (廉明)
    • Feng Yi (鳳儀)
  • Pang Wanchun (龐萬春) and deputies:
    • Lei Jiong (雷炯)
    • Ji Ji (計稷)
  • Li Tianrun (厲天閏) and deputies:
    • Zhang Tao (張韜) slays Liangshan's Dong Ping in an ambush when Dong was distracted by Li Tianrun.
    • Li Tianyou (厲天佑)
    • Zhang Jian (張儉)
    • Yao Yi (姚義)
  • Si Xingfang (司行方) and deputies:
    • Xue Dounan (薛斗南)
    • Huang Ai (黃愛)
    • Xu Bai (徐白)
    • Mi Quan (米泉)
  • Lü Shinang (吕师囊) and deputies ("12 Deities of Jiangnan"):
    • Shen Gang (沈剛), from Fuzhou, is nicknamed "Heaven Supporting Deity" (擎天神).
    • Pan Wende (潘文得), from Shezhou, is nicknamed "Youyi Deity" (游奕神).
    • Ying Ming (應明), from Muzhou, is nicknamed "Armoured Deity" (遁甲神).
    • Xu Tong (徐統), from Mingzhou (present-day Ningbo), is nicknamed "Liuding Deity" (六丁神).
    • Zhang Jinren (張近仁), from Yuezhou, is nicknamed "Thunderbolt Deity" (霹靂神). He slays Liangshan's Peng Qi by sneaking up behind him when Peng rides to fight Gao Keli to attempt to avenge for his fallen comrade Han Tao.
    • Shen Ze (沈澤), from Hangzhou, is nicknamed "Giant Deity" (巨靈神).
    • Zhao Yi (趙毅), from Huzhou, is nicknamed "Great White Deity" (太白神).
    • Gao Keli (高可立), from Xuanzhou (around present-day Xuanzhou District, Xuancheng, Anhui), is nicknamed "Taisui Deity" (太歲神). He kills Liangshan's Han Tao with an arrow when Han was duelling with Zhang Jinren.
    • Fan Chou (范疇), from Changzhou, is nicknamed "Diaoke Deity" (吊客神).
    • Zhuo Wanli (卓萬裡), from Runzhou, is nicknamed "Yellow Flagpole Deity" (黃幡神).
    • He Tong (和潼), from Jiangzhou (east of present-day Chongzuo, Guangxi), is nicknamed "Leopard's Tail Deity" (豹尾神).
    • Shen Bian (沈抃), from Suzhou, is nicknamed "Death Deity" (喪門神).
  • Bai Qin (白欽) is one of Fang La's warriors. He fights with Lü Fang at Black Dragon Ridge. Both of them roll down the slope to their deaths after losing their balance at the edge of a cliff.
  • Guo Shiguang (郭世廣) is one of Fang La's generals. He fights with Xuan Zan and both of them perish together under Yinma Bridge in Suzhou.
  • Chao Zhong (晁中)
  • Tang Fengshi (湯逢士)
  • Wang Ji (王績)
  • Yuan Xing (元興)
  • Mao Di (茅迪)
  • Cui Yu (崔彧)
  • Su Jing (蘇涇)
  • Bei Yingkui (貝應夔)


  1. ^ Ter Haar, The White Lotus Teachings in Chinese Religious History, pp.49-52