Liu Tang

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Liu Tang
Water Margin character
First appearanceChapter 14
Nickname"Red Haired Devil"
Rank21st, Deviance Star (天異星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits
Infantry leader of Liangshan
OriginIllegal trader
Ancestral home / Place of originDongluzhou (believed to be present-day Changzhi, Shanxi)
Simplified Chinese刘唐
Traditional Chinese劉唐
PinyinLiú Táng
Wade–GilesLiu T'ang

Liu Tang is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels in Chinese literature. Nicknamed "Red Haired Devil", he ranks 21st among the 36 Heavenly Spirits, the first third of the 108 Stars of Destiny.


Liu Tang is from Dongluzhou (東潞州; believed to be present-day Changzhi, Shanxi). The novel describes him as a muscular man with a dark complexion, a wide face, a red birthmark on his face, and crimson hair. He is nicknamed "Red Haired Devil" for his birthmark and unique hair colour. A highly-skilled warrior, he specialises in using the pudao. He wanders around the Song Empire in his early adulthood and does some illegal trading in Shandong and Hebei.

Robbing the convoy of birthday gifts[edit]

Liu Tang is one of the first to hear that Grand Secretary Liang Shijie has ordered a group of soldiers, disguised as traders, to escort a convoy of birthday gifts to the imperial capital Dongjing for his father-in-law, Imperial Tutor Cai Jing. He rushes off to Yuncheng County to propose the idea of robbing the convoy to Chao Gai, a village headman well known for his chivalrous character. Along the way to Chao Gai's village, he gets drunk and falls asleep in a rundown temple.

The chief constable Lei Heng and his men chance upon Liu Tang and arrest him after thinking that he is a wanted man on the run. When Lei Heng and his men stop at Chao Gai's village for a break, Liu Tang secretly tells Chao Gai the purpose of his visit and asks Chao Gai to help him get free. Chao Gai then lies to Lei Heng that Liu Tang is his relative; Lei Heng trusts Chao Gai so he releases Liu Tang. However, Liu Tang still feels sore that Lei Heng arrested him for no reason earlier, so he goes after Lei Heng and fights with him. Chao Gai shows up and manages to stop them.

Chao Gai then forms a team of seven comprising himself, Wu Yong, Gongsun Sheng, Liu Tang and the three Ruan brothers, to rob the convoy of birthday gifts. They disguise themselves as date traders and trick the escorts into drinking wine spiked with drugs that will make them unconscious. When the escorts are immobilised, the seven men escape with the birthday gifts. After defeating the government forces sent to arrest them, Liu Tang and his fellow robbers flee to the outlaw stronghold at Liangshan Marsh and take up shelter there.

Joining Liangshan[edit]

Wang Lun, the chief of the outlaw band at Liangshan, is worried that Chao Gai and his friends will pose a threat to his leadership so he tries to send them away with excuses and expensive gifts. Wu Yong, sensing that Lin Chong is already unhappy with Wang Lun, exploits Lin Chong's anger and instigates him to kill Wang Lun. Chao Gai then becomes the new chief of Liangshan while Liu Tang takes the fifth position of leadership in the Liangshan hierarchy. Chao Gai later sends Liu Tang to deliver gold pieces and a letter to Song Jiang, the then magistrate's clerk who alerted Chao Gai and his six friends that the authorities had sent soldiers to arrest them.

When the Liangshan outlaws attack Dongchang Prefecture (東昌府; in present-day Liaocheng, Shandong), Liu Tang is among several of Liangshan's best warriors who challenge "Featherless Arrow" Zhang Qing, the commander of Dongchang Prefecture's armed forces, in one-on-one duels on horseback. Liu Tang gets captured after Zhang Qing flings a stone at his face and causes him to fall off horseback. He is freed after the outlaws conquer Dongchang Prefecture and convince Zhang Qing to surrender and join them.

Campaigns and death[edit]

Liu Tang becomes one of the infantry leaders of Liangshan after the 108 Stars of Destiny come together in what is called the Grand Assembly. He follows the Liangshan heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces on Song territory after they received from Emperor Huizong.

During the campaign against Fang La's rebel forces, Liu Tang is assigned to attack the city of Hangzhou. Eager to earn the top credit, he charges into the city when he sees that the gates are wide open. However, it turns out to be a trap. Liu Tang is crushed to death by a falling beam after passing through the gates. Emperor Huizong later awards Liu Tang the posthumous title "Martial Gentleman of Loyalty" (忠武郎) to honour him for his contributions during the campaigns.


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