Lin Chong

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Lin Chong
Water Margin character
Yoshitoshi-Lin Chong.jpg
Lin Chong in an 1886 block print by Yoshitoshi
First appearanceChapter 7
Nickname"Panther Head"
Also known as
  • "Instructor Lin"
  • "Little Zhang Fei"
Rank6th, Majestic Star (天雄星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits
Right General of the Five Tiger Generals of Liangshan
OriginLance instructor of the 800,000 Imperial Guards
Ancestral home / Place of originDongjing (present-day Kaifeng, Henan)
Weapon8-foot-long (2.4 m) Snake Spear (丈八蛇矛); Pudao (朴刀)
Simplified Chinese林冲
Traditional Chinese林沖
PinyinLín Chōng
Wade–GilesLin Ch'ung

Lin Chong is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the four great classical novels in Chinese literature. Nicknamed "Panther Head", he ranks 6th among the 36 Heavenly Spirits, the first third of the 108 Stars of Destiny. In some folk tales, he is said to have learnt martial arts from Zhou Tong, who purportedly has also trained the Song dynasty general Yue Fei in archery.


Lin Chong resembles Zhang Fei, a general of the Three Kingdoms era, in appearance. Over six chi tall, with piercing eyes and a head like that of a panther, he is nicknamed "Panther Head". He was originally a martial arts instructor of the Imperial Guards in Dongjing (東京; present-day Kaifeng, Henan), the imperial capital of the Song dynasty.

Framed and exiled[edit]

Lin Chong sees Lu Zhishen working out with his staff and introduces himself. They become sworn brothers. While they are chatting, Gao Yanei, the lecherous foster son of Grand Marshal Gao Qiu, runs into Lin Chong's wife in a temple and, enchanted by her looks, wants to violate her. Lin Chong appears in time and saves his wife. Afraid of inviting trouble, Lin Chong decides not to take the case to the authorities. However, Gao Yanei has become obsessed with Lin Chong's wife and wants her for himself. He enlists the help of Lin Chong's friend Lu Qian, who devises the ploy of inviting Lin out for drinks. Gao Yanei then tricks Lin Chong's wife to Lu Qian's house, where he attempts to rape her. Mrs Lin‘s maid escapes and informs her master, who immediately rushes to Lu Qian's house. Gao Yanei flees upon learning that Lin Chong is coming.

Gao Yanei asks his foster father to help him get hold of Lin Chong‘s wife. Lu Qian suggests exploiting Lin‘s weakness for good weapons. Gao Qiu sends a man to trick Lin Chong into buying a rare sword, and then summons Lin Chong to his residence under the pretext of wanting to see his newly bought weapon. Lin Chong, carrying the sword, unsuspectingly enters the White Tiger Hall, where meetings of top-secret state matters are held and weapons are prohibited. Gao Qiu accuses Lin of wanting to assassinate him and orders his arrest.

Lin Chong is sentenced to be tattooed on the face and exiled to Cangzhou. Before he is on the way, he insists on divorcing his wife so that she can find a better husband. Meanwhile, Gao Qiu bribes Dong Chao and Xue Ba, the guards escorting Lin Chong to Cangzhou, to kill him along the way. During the journey, Dong and Xue mistreat Lin Chong and even scald his feet at one point. At Wild Boar Forest, just as the guards are about to kill Lin Chong, Lu Zhishen springs out from behind a tree, stops them and wants to finish them off. However, he is prevented by Lin Chong, who tells him that the guards are just Gao Qiu‘s stooges. Lu Zhishen then accompanies Lin Chong to Cangzhou and departs only when certain he would meet no harm.

While in Cangzhou, Lin Chong meets and befriends the nobleman Chai Jin, who provides him money to bribe the jailers not to make his life in prison miserable.

Burning of the fodder depot[edit]

When Gao Qiu learns that the murder has failed, he sends Lu Qian and his steward Fu An to Cangzhou on a second attempt to kill Lin Chong. Lu Qian bribes the chief warden and a jailer to assign Lin to be a solo watchman at a fodder depot.

On the night Lin Chong takes up his new duty in the depot, Lu Qian, Fu An and the jailer set fire to the place, believing he cannot escape from the inferno. However, Lin Chong has earlier gone out to buy wine and upon returning to the depot found his hut has collapsed under the weight of snow. He then took selter in a nearby temple. Upon seeing that the depot is on fire, he rushes to put it out. But he overhears the three men talking outside the temple and learns that the fire is their work. Enraged, he charges out, kills all three and offers their heads to the deity of the temple. He then flees the scene.

Becoming an outlaw[edit]

While on the run, Lin Chong meets Chai Jin again, who suggests that he join the outlaws at Liangshan Marsh. Chai Jin writes a recommendation letter for him addressed to Wang Lun, the chief of Liangshan. Lin Chong comes to a tavern which is actually an outpost of Liangshan managed by Zhu Gui, who ushers him across the marsh to the stronghold.

At Liangshan, Wang Lun fears that Lin Chong will usurp his position so he tries to send him away by offering him gifts. However, following Lin Chong‘s plea, Wang Lun agrees to let him stay if he can kill a man in three days and present the person‘s head. On the third day, Lin Chong encounters Yang Zhi and they fight to a standstill. Wang Lun comes to the scene, stops the fight, and invites Yang Zhi to join his band in the hope that he can be a counterweight to Lin Chong. But Yang Zhi declines and leaves. Wang Lun reluctantly lets Lin Chong stay and take the fourth position.

When Chao Gai and his six friends come to Liangshan for refuge after they are uncovered as the robbers of a convoy of birthday gifts meant for the Grand Tutor Cai Jing, Wang Lun again feels threatened. He tries to send them away with gifts, as he had with Lin Chong. Lin Chong, frustrated by Wang Lun's selfishness and incited by Wu Yong, kills the leader. Chao Gai then becomes the new chief of Liangshan, with Lin retaining the fourth position after Wu Yong and Gongsun Sheng.


After the 108 Stars of Destiny came together in what is called the Grand Assembly, Lin Chong is appointed as one of the Five Tiger Generals of the Liangshan cavalry.

When Gao Qiu personally leads government forces to attack Liangshan, he ends up being captured. While some editions[which?] of Water Margin say Lin Chong wants to kill Gao Qiu for revenge, the original version of the novel says Lin Chong has already accepted his fate as pre-determined. In the 120-chapter edition of Water Margin, Lin Chong stares at Gao Qiu with hostility as the Grand Marshal is being escorted into Liangshan's main hall after his capture. The earlier 100-chapter edition does not even mention this. Song Jiang treats Gao Qiu as an honoured guest and releases him in the hope that he will appeal for amnesty from Emperor Huizong on behalf of his band.

After the Liangshan outlaws finally obtain amnesty, they are sent to fight the Liao invaders and put down the rebel forces of Tian Hu, Wang Qing, and Fang La. Lin Chong follows the heroes on the campaigns and makes significant contributions by beating several top enemy warriors in combat. Just when they have completed the last campaign, Lin Chong is stricken by paralysis. He dies six months later under the care of Wu Song in Liuhe Temple in Hangzhou, where Lu Zhishen has died six months earlier.

Cultural references[edit]

  • Lin Chong portrayed by a Peking opera actor during a 2008 performance in Maule Regional Theater, Talca, Maule Region, Chile.
    In Beijing opera, there are two plays about Lin Chong's journey to becoming an outlaw. The first, "Wild Boar Forest" (野猪林), is based on the part of Lu Zhishen saving Lin Chong from the escorts when they are about to kill him during his exile trip to Cangzhou. The second, "Lin Chong Flees by Night" (林沖夜奔), is based on the burning of the fodder depot and Lin Chong's flight to Liangshan Marsh.
  • In the Japanese 1973 TV adaptation, Lin Chong (respelled Lin Chung; played by Atsuo Nakamura) is the lead character in the series, being portrayed as the unofficial leader of the Mount Liang rebels.

See also[edit]


  • Buck, Pearl S. (2006). All Men are Brothers. Moyer Bell. ISBN 9781559213035.
  • Miyazaki, Ichisada (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. 13. 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. 55–56, 71, 74–76, 80, 90, 93
  • Zhang, Lin Ching (2009). Biographies of Characters in Water Margin. Writers Publishing House. ISBN 978-7506344784.