Five Tiger Generals

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Five Tiger Generals

The Five Tiger Generals is a popular appellation in Chinese culture for any five military generals serving under a ruler. This term is used in literature texts, plays and popular culture. In historical contexts, "Five Tiger Generals" usually refers to the five best military generals serving under the ruler. The term does not appear in Chinese historical records and is not used officially.

In literature[edit]

When applied to the Three Kingdoms period, the "Five Tiger Generals" refer to five generals from the state of Shu Han. In the historical text Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi), the biographies of Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Huang Zhong, Ma Chao and Zhao Yun are placed in the same volume. In the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Yanyi), which romanticises the events before and during the Three Kingdoms period, the Shu emperor Liu Bei actually bestowed the titles of "Five Tiger Generals" on these five generals.[1] The historicity of the Tiger Generals is unknown; those generals existed but it is uncertain whether they were granted the titles contemporarily or posthumously honoured as such.

In the classical novel Water Margin, five of the 108 outlaws at Liangshan MarshGuan Sheng, Lin Chong, Qin Ming, Huyan Zhuo and Dong Ping – are named the "Five Tiger Generals" of the Liangshan cavalry.

In the historical novel Shuo Tang, the rebellion force of Wagang Army has Five Tiger Generals including Qin Shubao, Shan Xiongxin, Cheng Yaojin, Wang Bodang and Luo Cheng.

The Qing dynasty writer Li Yutang named Di Qing, Shi Yu, Zhang Zhong, Li Yi, and Liu Qing as the "Five Tiger Generals" in his works Romance of Di Qing, The Five Tigers Conquer the West, and The Five Tigers Pacify the South.[2]

In Heroes of the Ming Dynasty, a novel romanticising the events leading to the founding of the Ming dynasty, Xu Da, Tang He, Chang Yuchun, Hu Dahai, and Mu Ying are named the "Five Founding Tiger Generals of Ming".

Cultural impact[edit]

In present-day terminology, "Five Tiger Generals" can refer to any group of five that is particularly outstanding in a certain field.

Hsiao Shou-li, Chiang Wu-tung, Chiao Tsai-pao, Chen Chun-sheng, and Su Teng-wang are called "Five Tiger Generals" of Taiwanese opera.

Taiwanese politicians Kuo Yu-hsin, Li Wan-chu, Kuo Kuo-chi, Li Yuan-chan, and Wu San-lien are called the "Five Tiger Generals" of the Taiwan Provincial Consultative Council. Together with female politician Hsu Shih-hsien, the six of them are called "Five Tigers and the Phoenix".

In the 1980s and 1990s, the five hosts of the Taiwanese television channel Sanlih E-Television, He Yih-hang, Peng Chia-chia, Yang Fan, Yu Tien and Li Teng-tsai are called "Five Tiger Generals".

In the 1980s, Hong Kong television actors Felix Wong, Michael Miu, Kent Tong, Andy Lau and Tony Leung are called the "Five Tiger Generals of TVB". The five of them starred together in the 1991 film The Tigers.

In 2009, a Taiwanese musical band called Wu Hu Jiang was formed. The five members starred as the Five Tiger Generals of Shu in the television series K.O.3an Guo, which spoofs Romance of the Three Kingdoms in a modern school setting.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sanguo Yanyi ch. 73.
  2. ^ Chapter Two of Wuhu Zhengxi