Liu Tang

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Liu Tang
Water Margin character
Nickname "Red Haired Devil"
Rank 21st, Deviance Star (天異星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits
Infantry leader of Liangshan
Origin Illegal trader
Ancestral home / Place of origin Dongluzhou (believed to be present-day Changzhi, Shanxi)
First appearance Chapter 14
Weapon Pudao
Simplified Chinese 刘唐
Traditional Chinese 劉唐
Pinyin Liú Táng
Wade–Giles Liu T'ang
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Liu.

Liu Tang is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 21st of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Red Haired Devil".


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. He is well-trained in combat skills and specialises in using the pudao. He wanders around the jianghu in his early life and does some illegal trading in Shandong and Hebei.

Robbing the convoy of birthday gifts[edit]

Liu Tang is the first person to hear news about the convoy of birthday gifts for the Imperial Tutor, Cai Jing. The convoy is being escorted to Dongjing (東京; present-day Kaifeng, Henan) by Yang Zhi and a group of soldiers disguised as traders. Liu Tang rushes off to inform his friend Chao Gai, but becomes drunk on the way and falls asleep in a rundown temple. He is arrested by the constable Lei Heng, who mistakes him for a wanted fugitive. Lei Heng and his men stop by Chao Gai's village later for a rest. Chao Gai recognises Lei Heng and lies to Lei Heng that Liu is his nephew and requests that Lei release Liu. Lei Heng obliges but Liu Tang is still angry with Lei for arresting him earlier without reason so he tries to sneak up on Lei. Liu Tang and Lei Heng engage in a fierce fight until Chao Gai shows up and stops them.

Liu Tang, Chao Gai, Wu Yong, Gongsun Sheng and the Ruan brothers disguise themselves as date traders and trick Yang Zhi and his soldiers into drinking drugged wine. When Yang Zhi and his men become unconscious, the seven men escape with the birthday gifts, which are worth a large sum of money. Grand Secretary Liang Shijie (Cai Jing's son-in-law, who prepared the gifts) is furious and he orders the local authorities to arrest the robbers. Liu Tang and his companions defeat the soldiers sent to arrest them, and then flee to the outlaw stronghold at Liangshan Marsh.

Joining Liangshan[edit]

Wang Lun, the chief of the outlaw band at Liangshan, is worried that Chao Gai and his friends would pose a threat to his position as chief, so he tries to send them away by giving them precious gifts. Wu Yong instigates Lin Chong to kill Wang Lun, and then Chao Gai becomes the new chief. Liu Tang takes the fifth leadership position in the outlaw band.

When the Liangshan outlaws clash with imperial forces at the battle of Dongchang Prefecture (東昌府; in present-day Liaocheng, Shandong), Liu Tang volunteers himself to engage the imperial general "Featherless Arrow" Zhang Qing in a one-on-one duel. Zhang Qing uses his "flying stones" technique to stun Liu Tang and knock him off his horse, after which Liu is captured by the imperial forces. Liu Tang is freed after the outlaws defeat the imperial forces, break into Dongchang Prefecture, and convince Zhang Qing to join them.

Campaigns and death[edit]

Liu Tang becomes one of the infantry leaders of Liangshan after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny. He follows the heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong.

During the campaign against the rebel leader Fang La, Liu Tang is assigned to attack the enemy-controlled city of Hangzhou. He is eager to earn the top credit for the victory so he charges into the city when he sees that the gates are wide open. Unknown to him, Fang La's forces had actually set a trap to lure him into the city. Liu Tang is crushed to death by a falling beam after passing through the gates. He is posthumously awarded the honorific title "Martial Gentleman of Loyalty" (忠武郎) by Emperor Huizong in recognition of his contributions during the campaigns.