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 describes Gongsun Sheng as an eight chi tall Taoist priest, with eyebrows slanting apart like the Chinese character for "eight" (八), almond-like eyes and a noble appearance. Hailing from 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 powers and sometimes mystical conduct earn him the nickname "Dragon in the Clouds". He wields an ancient sword made of copper.

Robbing the convoy of birthday gifts[edit]

Gongsun Sheng learns that Liang Shijie, the son-in-law of Grand Tutor Cai Jing and governor of Daming Prefecture, is sending a convoy of birthday gifts to his father-in-law in the capital Dongjing. He rushes to Yuncheng County, hoping to team up with Chao Gai, a local landlord famous for his chivalry, to rob the convoy. At Chao Gai's manor, he also meets Wu Yong, Liu Tang and the three Ruan brothers, who have already formed a team to rob the convoy. Following Wu Yong's plan, the seven men disguise themselves as date traders, trick the soldiers escorting the convoy to consume drugged wine, and escape with the gifts once they are knocked out.

The authorities later manage to identify the seven robbers and their accomplice Bai Sheng, and send soldiers to arrest them. After receiving Song Jiang's warning that the soldiers are coming for them, Chao Gai, Wu Yong, Liu Tang and Gongsun Sheng flee to the fishing village where the Ruan brothers live. Gongsun Sheng uses his ability to change the weather to throw the soldiers into disarray, while his companions kill all the soldiers. After that, the seven men flee to Liangshan Marsh to seek refuge.

At Liangshan, Chao Gai replaces the inept and selfish Wang Lun as chief after Lin Chong kills Wang Lun. Gongsun Sheng takes the third position of in the Liangshan hierarchy after Chao Gai and Wu Yong.

At Liangshan[edit]

After spending some time at Liangshan, Gongsun Sheng misses his mother in Jizhou and decides to return home to visit her. However, he secretly desires to leave the Liangshan cause to study Taoism with his master, Taoist Luo.

Around the time the Liangshan outlaws are attacking Gaotangzhou (高唐州; around present-day Gaotang County, Shandong) to rescue their ally Chai Jin, who has been imprisoned by the governor Gao Lian. Although Gao Lian's forces are no match for Liangshan, he manages to hold them off using his dark magic. Frustrated and distraught, Song Jiang sends Dai Zong to go find Gongsun Sheng and bring him back to help them. Li Kui insists on tagging along. After they find Gongsun Sheng, they cannot win Taoist Luo's consent to let him go. Exasperated, Li Kui breaks into Taoist Luo's sanctum at night and kills him. However, he is surprised to find Taoist Luo still alive the next day. After punishing Li Kui for his transgression, Taoist Luo gives Gongsun Sheng permission to leave with Dai Zong and Li Kui on the condition that Gongsun Sheng must return later to complete his training. Gongsun Sheng defeats Gao Lian with his more powerful magic, and the outlaws capture Gaotangzhou and rescue Chai Jin.

During the battle of Mount Mangdang (芒碭山; north of present-day Yongcheng, Henan), Liangshan faces an outlaw band led by Fan Rui, who is also trained in Taoist magic. After Shi Jin and his vanguard force are routed by Fan Rui's magical powers, Song Jiang leads another group from Liangshan to attack Mount Mangdang. Gongsun Sheng, who is among the reinforcements, uses his more powerful magic to defeat Fan Rui and his forces. Fan Rui surrenders, joins Liangshan, and becomes Gongsun Sheng's apprentice.


Gongsun Sheng becomes one of the two chief strategists of Liangshan, the other being Wu Yong, after the 108 Stars of Destiny come together in what is called the Grand Assembly. He follows the Liangshan heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces on Song territory after they received amnesty from Emperor Huizong. During the campaign against the rebel leader Tian Hu, Gongsun Sheng defeats the magician Qiao Daoqing, paving the way for Tian Hu's elimination

Following the Liangshan victory over Wang Qing's rebel forces, Gongsun Sheng secures Song Jiang's permission to leave Liangshan to pursue his studies in Taoism. As such, he is not involved in the final campaign against the rebel leader Fang La. He returns to his hometown in Jizhou, where he devotes the rest of his life to Taoism. Fan Rui and Zhu Wu join him not long after he quits the band.


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