|Water Margin character|
An illustration of Hua Rong, by Chen Hongshou.
|First appearance||Chapter 33|
|Nickname||"Little Li Guang"
|Rank||9th, Hero Star (天英星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Tiger Cub Vanguard General of Liangshan|
|Ancestral home / Place of origin||Qingfeng Fort (in present-day Qingzhou, Weifang, Shandong)|
|Weapon||Spear; Bow and arrows|
Hua Rong is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 9th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Little Li Guang".
The novel describes Hua Rong as a handsome youth with red lips, white teeth, a narrow waist and broad shoulders. He is renowned for his skill in archery and his ability to tame wild horses. He is nicknamed "Little Li Guang" after Li Guang, a famous general and archer who lived in the Han dynasty.
Hua Rong serves as a military officer in Qingfeng Fort (清風寨; in present-day Qingzhou, Weifang, Shandong) under Liu Gao, the official in charge of the fort. Song Jiang comes to join him after leaving Chai Jin's residence. Liu Gao's wife repays Song Jiang's kindness with evil by falsely accusing him of collaborating with the bandits on Mount Qingfeng (清風寨; near Qingfeng Fort) to kidnap her earlier. Liu Gao believes his wife and orders Song Jiang to be arrested and imprisoned. When Hua Rong learns about it, he writes a letter to Liu Gao to explain the truth and request him to release Song Jiang. However, Liu Gao refuses, so Hua Rong leads his men to the prison and frees Song Jiang by force.
Battle of Qingfeng Fort
Liu Gao seeks help from his superior Murong Yanda, the governor of Qingzhou (青州; in present-day Shandong). Murong Yanda sends the general Huang Xin to lead an army to Qingfeng Fort to help Liu Gao. Huang Xin lures Hua Rong into an ambush under the guise of helping to mediate the conflict between Hua and Liu Gao. Hua Rong falls for the ruse and is captured. Huang Xin and his soldiers then escort Song Jiang and Hua Rong as prisoners back to Qingzhou to let Murong Yanda decide their fates. Along the way, the bandits from Mount Qingfeng ambush the convoy and rescue the two captives. Huang Xin is outnumbered by the bandits and has no choice but to retreat back to Qingfeng Fort. In the meantime, Murong Yanda orders another general, Qin Ming, to lead an army to attack the outlaws. Qin Ming falls into a trap, ends up being captured by the outlaws, and decides to join them after his family members are executed by Murong Yanda, who mistakenly believes that Qin has rebelled and joined the outlaws. Qin Ming is left deeply embittered for some time because he still feels sore about being compelled to become an outlaw and also because of the deaths of his family members. He marries Hua Rong's younger sister later in a marriage arranged by Song Jiang.
Hua Rong follows the heroes back to Liangshan after they capture Qingfeng Fort. He becomes one of the Eight Tiger Cub Vanguard Generals of the Liangshan cavalry. He is actively involved in numerous battles between Liangshan and its enemies and his prowess in archery always proved to be a blessing to his fellows. For example, he once shot down an enemy signal lantern and enabled the Liangshan forces to retreat safely. In another incident, Hua Rong shoots down an eagle high up in the sky with a single arrow shot. His charisma also makes him an important figure in persuading several other heroes to join the Liangshan cause.
After the outlaws have been granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong, Hua Rong follows them on their subsequent campaigns against the Liao invaders and the rebel forces of Tian Hu, Wang Qing and Fang La. He is one of the few survivors after the campaigns. He assumes a military post offered to him by the emperor in recognition of his contributions. He is overwhelmed with grief when he learns that Song Jiang and Li Kui have been murdered by corrupt officials. He travels to Chuzhou (楚州; in present-day Huai'an, Jiangsu) and finds Wu Yong already there. The two commit suicide together by hanging themselves on a tree near the graves of Song Jiang and Li Kui.
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