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 appearance Chapter 7
Nickname "Panther Head"
Also known as
  • "Instructor Lin"
  • "Little Zhang Fei"
Rank 6th, Majestic Star (天雄星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits
Right General of the Five Tiger Generals of Liangshan
Origin Lance instructor of the 800,000 Imperial Guards
Ancestral home / Place of origin Dongjing (present-day Kaifeng, Henan)
Weapon 8-foot-long (2.4 m) Snake Spear (丈八蛇矛); Pudao (朴刀)
Simplified Chinese 林冲
Traditional Chinese 林沖
Pinyin Lín Chōng
Wade–Giles Lin Ch'ung

Lin Chong is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 6th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Panther Head". In the world of published fiction, he is a former student of Zhou Tong.


Lin Chong resembles Zhang Fei in appearance. He stands just over six chi, with glaring eyes and a head like a panther's. He is thus nicknamed "Panther Head". Before becoming an outlaw, Lin Chong served as a martial arts instructor of the Imperial Guards in the capital, Dongjing (東京; present-day Kaifeng, Henan).

Framed and exiled[edit]

Once, Lin Chong meets Lu Zhishen while accompanying his wife to the temple and becomes sworn brothers with Lu. His wife catches the eye of Gao Yanei, the lecherous foster son of Grand Marshal Gao Qiu. Gao Yanei tries to molest Lin Chong's wife but Lin appears in the nick of time and stops him. Since then, Gao Yanei becomes obsessed with Lin Chong's wife and wants to have her for himself. He enlists the help of Lin Chong's friend Lu Qian, asking Lu Qian to distract Lin Chong by asking him out for drinks. Gao Yanei then tricks Lin Chong's wife to a house and tries to rape her there. Lin Chong's servant alerts him in time and Lin rushes there and saves his wife from Gao Yanei's sexual advances. Gao Yanei escapes in a frenzy.

Gao Yanei is adamant that he gets Lin Chong's wife so he asks his foster father for help. Knowing that Lin Chong likes weapons, Gao Qiu employs a weapon seller to trick Lin Chong into buying a precious saber and then requests for Lin's presence in his residence under the pretext of seeing the saber. Lin Chong is tricked into entering the White Tiger Hall (白虎節堂) while carrying the weapon. Important meetings are held in the hall and weapons are not permitted inside. Unfortunately, Lin Chong is caught having a weapon in his possession while inside the hall and is arrested for attempting to assassinate Gao Qiu.

Lin Chong is framed for attempting to assassinate a grand marshal and is sentenced to face-tattooing and exiled to Cangzhou. Gao Qiu bribes the guards, Dong Chao and Xue Ba, who are escorting Lin Chong there to kill him along the way. To make Lin Chong defenceless, the guards trick him into washing his feet in boiling water and cause his feet to become sore and blistered. Lu Zhishen secretly follows Lin Chong and saves him from death in Wild Boar Forest when the guards try to kill him. Lin Chong manages to persuade Lu Zhishen not to kill the guards, saying that they had no choice but to follow orders. After giving the guards a display of his strength by knocking down a tree, Lu Zhishen bids farewell to Lin Chong and returns to Dongjing. Fearful for their lives, the guards escort Lin Chong to Cangzhou without causing further problems. While in Cangzhou, Lin Chong meets and befriends Chai Jin, who provides him with silver to bribe the jailers in the Cangzhou prison to make Lin's stay there more comfortable. However, Gao Qiu is dissatisfied with Lin Chong's fate and sends Lu Qian to Cangzhou to kill Lin.

Burning of the fodder depot[edit]

Acting on Gao Qiu's orders, Lu Qian bribes the chief warden to assign Lin Chong to oversee a fodder depot. The warden tells Lin Chong that he wants to improve Lin's living conditions out of respect for Chai Jin. Later, Lu Qian and the warden set fire to the depot in an attempt to kill Lin. However, Lin Chong is unharmed as he has taken shelter in a nearby temple after his hut collapsed under the heavy snowfall. Lin Chong hears voices outside the temple and recognises Lu Qian's voice. He rushes out and kills Lu Qian and his accomplices. After that, he severs their heads and offers them as a sacrifice in front of the deity statue in the temple. Lin Chong then abandons the depot, which has become a fiery inferno. After some time, he chances upon a house and forcibly takes wine from the men inside. The men find Lin Chong drunk and unconscious in the snow later and carry him back to a manor, which turns out to be Chai Jin's residence.

Becoming an outlaw[edit]

Chai Jin recommends Lin Chong to join the outlaws at Liangshan Marsh by writing a letter to Wang Lun, the chief of Liangshan. Wang Lun is selfish and he fears that Lin Chong will become a threat to his position as chief. He tries to send Lin Chong away with gifts, but Lin protests strongly that he has nowhere else to go. Wang Lun agrees to let Lin Chong join Liangshan if he can kill a man and present his head within three days. Lin Chong is unable to catch anyone passing by Liangshan on the first two days, but meets Yang Zhi on the third day and fights with him. Wang Lun appears and stops the fight. He is impressed with Yang Zhi's skill and offers to let Yang join Liangshan but Yang refuses. Wang Lun eventually allows Lin Chong to join Liangshan.

When the "Righteous Seven" led by Chao Gai come to Liangshan for refuge, Wang Lun tries to send them away again with gifts and by using the same words he used on Lin Chong earlier. Lin Chong becomes even more frustrated with Wang Lun for his selfishness and refusal to allow others to join Liangshan. Wu Yong instigates Lin Chong to kill Wang Lun. Chao Gai is then nominated to be the new chief. Lin Chong takes the fourth position of leadership after Wu Yong and Gongsun Sheng.

Lin Chong becomes one of the Five Tiger Generals of the Liangshan cavalry after the Grand Assembly in chapter 71. His prowess in battle is never doubted, and when combined with his sense of loyalty and courage, becomes instrumental in the various victories of Liangshan over its enemies.


In the marine battle between Liangshan and the imperial army led by Gao Qiu, the imperials are defeated and Gao Qiu is captured. Contrary to many depictions in popular culture, however, Lin Chong does not seek vengeance on Gao Qiu. Both Lin Chong and Yang Zhi come to believe their fates were predestined long before Gao Qiu's defeat. The 120-chapter version of Water Margin mentions Lin Chong and Yang Zhi glaring at Gao Qiu as he enters the banquet hall, though the earlier 100-chapter version of the novel relates nothing at all concerning Lin Chong's actions while Gao Qiu is being held at the outlaw stronghold. Song Jiang treats Gao Qiu like a guest and intends to release him in the narrow hope that he will assist the outlaws in their appeal for amnesty.

After the Liangshan outlaws succeed in obtaining amnesty, they are sent on expeditions against the Liao invaders and the rebel forces of Tian Hu, Wang Qing, and Fang La. Lin Chong follows the heroes on their campaigns and makes numerous contributions by defeating several of the best enemy warriors in battle. On the verge of departing for the capital after the defeat of Fang La, Lin Chong is stricken by paralysis. He dies six months later under the care of Wu Song at Liuhe Pagoda in Hangzhou, where Lu Zhishen died six months earlier.

Cultural references[edit]

The story of how Lin Chong becomes an outlaw has become a subject for a Beijing opera, 'Wild Boar Forest' (Chinese: 野猪林; pinyin: Yě Zhū Lín), which derived its name from one of the chapters in the novel.

See also[edit]