Guan Sheng

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Guan Sheng
Water Margin character
GuanSheng.gif
An illustration of Guan Sheng by Chen Hongshou
First appearanceChapter 63
Nickname"Great Blade"
大刀
Rank5th, Brave Star (天勇星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits
Left General of the Five Tiger Generals of Liangshan
OriginImperial general
Ancestral home / Place of originYuncheng, Shanxi
WeaponGreen Dragon Crescent Blade (青龍偃月刀)
Names
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
PinyinGuān Shèng
Wade–GilesKuan Sheng

Guan Sheng is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Nicknamed "Great Blade", he ranks 5th among the 36 Heavenly Spirits, the first third of the 108 Stars of Destiny.

Background[edit]

A direct descendant of Guan Yu, Guan Sheng resembles his famous ancestor in appearance. Standing at eight chi and five/six cun tall, he has a flowing beard, long eyebrows, and eyes like a fenghuang's. His weapon of choice is a guandao named after the one his ancestor wielded; as a result, he is nicknamed "Great Blade". Well-versed in military strategy and well-trained in combat skills, he serves as a general in the east of Puzhou (蒲州; present-day Yuncheng, Shanxi) under the Song dynasty.

Battle against Liangshan[edit]

When the outlaws from Liangshan Marsh are attacking Daming Prefecture (present-day Daming County, Hebei), Xuan Zan recommends Guan Sheng to lead government forces to drive back the outlaws and lift the siege at Daming Prefecture. The Song imperial court then puts Guan Sheng in command of an army assigned to this mission; Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen serve as Guan Sheng's deputies.

Guan Sheng uses the tactic of "besieging Wei to rescue Zhao" by attacking the outlaws' base at Liangshan Marsh to force them to withdraw from Daming Prefecture and turn back to save their base. His tactic succeeds. In the meantime, Liangshan's Zhang Heng attempts to raid Guan Sheng's camp at night but fails when the vigilant general detects him and captures him in a trap.

Life at Liangshan[edit]

Impressed with Guan Sheng's talents, Liangshan's field commander Song Jiang is eager to recruit the general to join the outlaw band and boost their reputation. He instructs Huyan Zhuo, a former general, to pretend to be a turncoat and lure Guan Sheng into a trap. Guan Sheng believes Huyan Zhuo's account that he was forced to join Liangshan, and unsuspectingly follows him into the trap and gets captured by the outlaws. Song Jiang treats Guan Sheng respectfully and manages to convince the general to surrender and join Liangshan.

Following Guan Sheng's defection, the Song imperial court sends Shan Tinggui and Wei Dingguo to lead another army from Lingzhou (凌州; in present-day Dezhou, Shandong) to attack Liangshan. With Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen serving as his deputies, Guan Sheng volunteers to lead Liangshan forces to launch a preemptive strike on Lingzhou. He challenges Shan Tinggui to a one-on-one duel on horseback outside the city. Halfway during the duel, Guan Sheng feigns defeat and lures Shan Tinggui to pursue him. He then suddenly turns around, catches Shan Tinggui off guard, knocks him off horseback and captures him. After listening to Guan Sheng's account of why he decided to join Liangshan, Shan Tinggui agrees to surrender and join Liangshan as well. He even manages to convince Wei Dingguo to do the same.

Death[edit]

Guan Sheng becomes one of the Five Tiger Generals of the Liangshan cavalry after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny. After the outlaws received amnesty from Emperor Huizong, Guan Sheng follows them on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces on Song territory as a form of service to the Song Empire. He is one of the few Liangshan heroes who survive all the campaigns.

As a reward for Guan Sheng's contributions during the campaigns, Emperor Huizong restores him to his former position as a general of the Song imperial army. One day, after a military exercise, Guan Sheng gets drunk while celebrating his achievements and falls off horseback after losing his balance. He becomes critically ill and dies a few days later.

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. 11. 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, pp. 62, 90, 98
  • Zhang, Lin Ching (2009). Biographies of Characters in Water Margin. Writers Publishing House. ISBN 978-7506344784.