Gongsun Sheng

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Gongsun Sheng
Water Margin character
An illustration of Gongsun Sheng by Chen Hongshou.
First appearanceChapter 14
Nickname"Dragon in the Clouds"
Rank4th, Leisure Star (天閒星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits
Strategist of Liangshan
Ancestral home / Place of originJizhou (present-day Ji County, Tianjin)
WeaponSword, Taoist magic
Simplified Chinese公孙胜
Traditional Chinese公孫勝
PinyinGōngsūn Shèng
Wade–GilesKung-sun Sheng

Gongsun Sheng is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the four great classical novels in Chinese literature. Nicknamed "Dragon in the Clouds", he ranks 4th among the 36 Heavenly Spirits, the first third of the 108 Stars of Destiny.


The novel portrays Gongsun Sheng as an eight chi tall Taoist priest with a noble look as his eyebrows slant apart like the Chinese character for "eight" (八) and his eyes are almond-shaped. A native of Jizhou (薊州; present-day Ji County, Tianjin), he is a master of Taoist magic who could summon the wind and rain, ride the mist and drive the clouds. His magical power plus his sometimes mystical behaviour earn him the nickname "Dragon in the Clouds". He carries an ancient sword made of copper.

Robbing the convoy of birthday gifts[edit]

Gongsun Sheng learns that Liang Shijie, prefect of Daming, is sending valuable birthday gifts to his father-in-law Imperial Tutor Cai Jing in the capital Dongjing. He rushes to Yuncheng County to ask Chao Gai, a local landlord known for being chivalrous, to partner him to rob the convoy. At Chao Gai's manor, he meets Wu Yong, Liu Tang and the three Ruan brothers, who have already come together for the robbery. Following Wu Yong's plan, the seven men, disguised as date traders, trick the escorts of the convoy to drink wine spiked with drug. They cart away the gifts once the guards are knocked out.

The authorities later identify Chao as the mastermind and send soldiers to arrest the group in Chao's house. Forewarned by Song Jiang, Chao Gai, Wu Yong, Liu Tang and Gongsun Sheng flee to the fishing village of the Ruan brothers. Gongsun manipulates the weather to confound the soldiers who have come for them while the rest mow them down. After that, the seven men flee to Liangshan Marsh to seek refuge.

At Liangshan, Chao Gai replaces the narrow-minded Wang Lun as chief, who is killed by Lin Chong. Gongsun Sheng takes the third position after Chao Gai and Wu Yong.

At Liangshan[edit]

After some time at Liangshan, Gongsun Sheng misses his mother in Jizhou and decides to go visit her. However, his stay with his mother stretches on as he continues to study Taoism with his master Taoist Luo.

It happens that the Liangshan outlaws get into a battle with Gaotangzhou (高唐州; around present-day Gaotang County, Shandong) as they try to rescue their friend Chai Jin, who is jailed by the prefecture's governor Gao Lian. Although Gao's forces are no match for Liangshan, he uses black magic to conjure wild beasts to defeat them. Distraught, Song Jiang sends Dai Zong to go fetch Gongsun Sheng to take on Gao. Li Kui insists on going along. After they found Gongsun, they could not win Taoist Luo's consent to let his disciple go. Exasperated, Li Kui steals into Taoist Luo's sanctum after nightfall and chops off his head. He is surprised to find the priest still alive the next day. After giving Li Kui a nasty punishment for his rash act, Taoist Luo gives Gongsun Sheng permission to leave, but on the condition that he must return one day to complete his training. Gongsun defeats Gao Lian with his more powerful magic. Gaotangzhou is captured and Chai Jin rescued.

At Mount Mangdang (芒碭山; north of present-day Yongcheng, Henan), Liangshan faces the challenge of another outlaw band led by Fan Rui, who is also trained in Taoist magic. After the force led by Shi Jin were defeated by Fan with his sorcery, Song Jiang comes to reinforce him. Gongsun Sheng beats Fan Rui and his men with his more powerful magic. Fan surrenders and becomes Gongsun Sheng's Taoist apprentice.


Gongsun Sheng becomes a strategist of Liangshan alongside Wu Yong, after the 108 Stars of Destiny came together in what is called the Grand Assembly. He joins the Liangshan heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces on Song territory following amnesty from Emperor Huizong. During the campaign against the rebel leader Tian Hu, Gongsun defeats the magician Qiao Daoqing, sealing the fall of Tian.

After the Liangshan band put down the rebel forces of Wang Qing, Gongsun convinces Song Jiang to let him return to Jizhou to deepen his study of Taoism. Therefore, he is not involved in the final campaign against the rebel leader Fang La. He spends the rest of his life in Jizhou pursuing the Taoist path. Fan Rui and Zhu Wu join him after the campaign against Fang La wound up.


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