Gu Dasao

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Gu Dasao
Water Margin character
First appearanceChapter 49
Nickname"Female Tiger"
母大蟲
Rank101st, Yin Star (地陰星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends
Scout leader of Liangshan
OriginTavern owner
Names
Simplified Chinese顾大嫂
Traditional Chinese顧大嫂
PinyinGù Dàsǎo
Wade–GilesKu Ta-sao

Gu Dasao (literally "Elder Sister-in-Law Gu") is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Nicknamed "Female Tiger",[a] she ranks 101st of the 108 Stars of Destiny and 65th of the 72 Earthly Fiends.

Background[edit]

The novel describes Gu Dasao as a woman with thick eyebrows, large eyes, a plump face, and a thick waist. She wears several decorative ornaments on her head and wrists. Unlike most women of her time, she does not play the role of a housewife and instead spends her time planning and engaging in violent activities. A highly skilled fighter specialising in the use of pole weapons (e.g. spear and staff), she is capable of taking on 20–30 opponents in combat at the same time.

Owing to her fiery temper and inclination towards violence, Gu Dasao earns herself the nickname "Female Tiger". Sometimes, she even beats up her husband, Sun Xin, when she gets angry. The couple run a tavern in Dengzhou (登州; in present-day eastern Shandong), where Sun Xin's brother Sun Li works as a garrison officer.

Prison raid in Dengzhou[edit]

On one occasion, Gu Dasao receives news from the jailer Yue He (Sun Li's brother-in-law) that Xie Zhen and Xie Bao have been framed, imprisoned and sentenced to death. With her husband's help, she recruits Yue He and the outlaws Zou Yuan and Zou Run to join them in staging a raid on the prison to save the Xie brothers. However, she is worried that her brother-in-law Sun Li will stand in their way so she and her husband lure Sun Li to a meeting and pressure him into joining them. Although Sun Li is initially reluctant to become an outlaw, he eventually agrees when he feels convinced that they are doing the right thing in saving the Xie brothers.

Yue He secretly helps the group by opening the prison gates and distracting the other prison guards during the raid. After saving the Xie brothers, the whole group flee to Liangshan Marsh and join the outlaw band there.

Battle against the Zhu Family Village[edit]

At the time, the Liangshan outlaws are locked in a stalemate during a battle against the Zhu Family Village. As Sun Li previously learnt martial arts from the same master as Luan Tingyu, the martial arts instructor of the village, he suggests to his fellow outlaws that he can make use of his relationship with Luan Tingyu to infiltrate the village and work as a spy for Liangshan.

After the outlaws approve, Sun Li brings along the group who followed him to Liangshan (Sun Xin, Gu Dasao, Xie Zhen, Xie Bao, Yue He, Zou Yuan and Zou Run) and makes his way to the Zhu Family Village. He lies to Luan Tingyu and the Zhus that he has heard that they are facing problems with the Liangshan outlaws, and has brought along his family and friends to provide assistance.

Although the Zhus seem to welcome Sun Li and his group, they are not completely convinced that he genuinely wants to help them. However, after Sun Li defeats and captures Liangshan's Shi Xiu in a one-on-one duel, he manages to win the Zhus' trust and confidence. (Sun Li and Shi Xiu had, in fact, secretly agreed beforehand that Shi Xiu will feign defeat and allow Sun Li to capture him.) When the opportunity arises, Sun Li and his group create chaos inside the village and let the Liangshan outlaws enter and overrun the village. The battle between Liangshan and the Zhus conclude with a total victory for Liangshan.

Campaigns and later life[edit]

Gu Dasao becomes one of the scout leaders of Liangshan after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny. She and her husband are stationed in the tavern east of Liangshan. They are tasked with making preparations to receive the imperial envoy from Emperor Huizong, who grants the outlaws amnesty and allows them to prove their loyalty to the Song Empire by going on campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces within the Song Empire.

Gu Dasao follows the Liangshan heroes on the campaigns, which took the lives of about a third of the 108 Stars of Destiny. Along with her husband Sun Xin and brother-in-law Sun Li, she is one of the survivors who manage to make it back to the Song imperial capital to report their victory to Emperor Huizong. As a reward for her service to the Song Empire, she receives the honorary title "Lady of Dongyuan County" (東源縣君). She then returns to Dengzhou with her family.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Note that 大蟲, which literally means "big bug", is used as a euphemism or literary term in place of 虎, the proper Chinese term for tiger. See the Wiktionary entry for 大蟲.

References[edit]

  • Buck, Pearl S. (2006). All Men are Brothers. Moyer Bell. ISBN 9781559213035.
  • Ichisada, Miyazaki (1993). Suikoden: Kyoko no naka no Shijitsu (in Japanese). Chuo Koronsha. ISBN 978-4122020559.
  • Keffer, David. "Outlaws of the Marsh: A Somewhat Less Than Critical Commentary". Poison Pie Publishing House. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  • Li, Mengxia (1992). 108 Heroes from the Water Margin (in Chinese). EPB Publishers. p. 205. ISBN 9971-0-0252-3.
  • Miyamoto, Yoko (2011). "Water Margin: Chinese Robin Hood and His Bandits". Demystifying Confucianism. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  • Shibusawa, Kou (1989), Bandit Kings of Ancient China, Koei
  • Zhang, Lin Ching (2009). Biographies of Characters in Water Margin. Writers Publishing House. ISBN 978-7506344784.