|Water Margin character|
|Rank||101st, Yin Star (地陰星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends|
|Scout leader of Liangshan|
|First appearance||Chapter 49|
Gu Dasao (lit. "Elder Sister-in-Law Gu") is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. She ranks 101st of the 108 Liangshan heroes and 65th of the 72 Earthly Fiends. She is nicknamed "Female Tiger".[notes 1]
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. She is different from most women in her time as she does not know how to do household chores like any other typical housewife. She practises martial arts instead and excels in using the spear and staff. She is a fearsome opponent in combat and can fight 20–30 enemies at the same time. She takes great initiative in planning violent killings and raids.
Gu Dasao is married to Sun Xin. She even beats up her husband when she is angry. She earns herself the nickname "Female Tiger" for her fiery temper. The couple run a tavern in Dengzhou (登州; in present-day eastern Shandong), where Sun Xin's elder brother, Sun Li, works as a garrison major.
Becoming an outlaw
Once, Sun Li receives a distress call from Yue He and learns that Xie Zhen and Xie Bao have been framed, imprisoned and sentenced to death. Sun Li combines forces with Yue He, his brother and sister-in-law, Zou Run and Zou Yuan, to raid the prison and rescue the Xie brothers. They flee to Liangshan Marsh for refuge after that and become outlaws.
At that time, the Liangshan outlaws are locked in a stalemate during a battle with the Zhu Family Village. Sun Li is a former fellow student of Luan Tingyu, a martial arts instructor of the village. He decides to make use of his relationship with Luan to conduct an espionage mission, bringing along those who followed him to Liangshan earlier. They receive a warm welcome from Luan and the Zhu brothers.
However, the Zhus are suspicious of Sun Li's allegiance to them initially. Sun Li proves his loyalty by capturing Liangshan's Shi Xiu during a duel. The Zhus then believe that Sun Li is genuinely faithful to them. Sun Li and his team work together with the Liangshan forces to bring down the Zhus and capture the village, making his first major contribution to Liangshan. He participates in the subsequent battles against the enemies of Liangshan.
Campaigns and later life
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, and are tasked with making preparations to receive the imperial envoy from Emperor Huizong.
After the outlaws have been granted amnesty by the emperor, Gu Dasao follows them on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces. She survives the campaigns and is awarded the honorific title "Lady of Dongyuan County" (東源縣君) by the emperor in recognition of her contributions. She returns to Dengzhou with her husband and brother-in-law.
- Note that '大蟲', which literally means "big bug", was a slang term for "tiger" in ancient China. It was commonly used in place of '虎', the conventional Chinese term for "tiger".
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 203. EPB Publishers Pte Ltd, 1992. ISBN 9971-0-0252-3.
- Buck, Pearl. All Men are Brothers. Moyer Bell Ltd, 2006. ISBN 9781559213035.
- Zhang, Lin Ching. Biographies of Characters in Water Margin. Writers Publishing House, 2009. ISBN 978-7506344784.
- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.
- Miyamotois, Yoko. Water Margin: Chinese Robin Hood and His Bandits.
- (Japanese) Ichisada, Miyazaki. Suikoden: Kyoko no naka no Shijitsu. Chuo Koronsha, 1993. ISBN 978-4122020559.
- Shibusawa, Kou. Bandit Kings of Ancient China. KOEI, 1989.