A Qing dynasty portrait of Ma Dai
|General of Shu Han|
Ma Dai (birth and death dates unknown) was a military general of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period. He previously served under his uncle Ma Teng, a warlord in northwestern China, during the late Eastern Han dynasty. After Ma Teng's death, he followed his cousin Ma Chao (Ma Teng's eldest son) and they joined the warlord Zhang Lu in Hanzhong for a short period of time. Ma Chao later defected to another warlord Liu Bei, and Ma Dai accompanied him. Ma Dai served under Liu Bei and later in the state of Shu Han (founded by Liu Bei).
Not much information on Ma Dai is found in historical records. It is known that in 234, he participated in the fifth Northern Expedition led by Shu's chancellor Zhuge Liang to attack the Shu's rival state Cao Wei. Ma Dai was also credited with slaying the Shu general Wei Yan, who was alleged to have turned against Shu after the death of Zhuge Liang.
Ma Dai was a younger cousin of Ma Chao. He does not have a biography in the Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi), the authoritative source for the history of the Three Kingdoms period; he is mentioned occasionally in the biographies of other people such as Ma Chao and Wei Yan. He is first mentioned in Ma Chao's biography in a letter written by Ma Chao to Liu Bei before his death. Ma Chao wrote: "Over 200 members of my family were killed by Cao Cao. I only have my cousin Ma Dai left with me. He will be the one to continue my family line. I entrust him to Your Majesty's care. That is all I have to say." Ma Dai served in the state of Shu Han as a military general. The highest position he attained was "General Who Pacifies the North" (平北將軍). He was also enfeoffed as the "Marquis of Chencang" (陳倉侯).
Ma Dai is mentioned in Wei Yan's biography. In 234, when conflict broke out between Yang Yi and Wei Yan after Zhuge Liang's death, Yang Yi ordered Ma Dai to attack Wei Yan. Ma Dai caught up with Wei Yan while the latter was fleeing towards Hanzhong, decapitated him, brought his head back, and threw it in front of Yang Yi.
Ma Dai is also briefly mentioned in Sima Yi's biography in the Book of Jin. In 235, he led Shu forces to attack Shu's rival state, Cao Wei, but was defeated and driven back by the Wei general Niu Jin. He lost about 1,000 troops in battle.
In Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Ma Dai appears as a character in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, in which he is given a larger role. In the novel, he followed Ma Teng to the capital on a summon from Cao Cao, and survived when Ma Teng and his sons were killed by Cao Cao's men in a trap. He joined his cousin Ma Chao in the Battle of Tong Pass against Cao Cao, and accompanied Ma Chao when the latter was defeated and had to seek refuge under Zhang Lu of Hanzhong. He followed Ma Chao and came to serve Liu Bei when his cousin defected to Liu during Liu Bei's takeover of Yi Province. Ma Dai participated actively in southern campaign against the Nanman and the Northern Expeditions against the rival state of Cao Wei. After Zhuge Liang's death, the Shu general Wei Yan rebelled, and Ma Dai pretended to support him but killed him later.
In popular culture
- (臨沒上疏曰：「臣門宗二百餘口，為孟德所誅略盡，惟有從弟岱，當為微宗血食之繼，深託陛下，餘無復言。」) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (岱位至平北將軍，進爵陳倉侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (延獨與其子數人逃亡，奔漢中。儀遣馬岱追斬之，致首於儀， ...) Sanguozhi vol. 40.
- (三年，遷太尉，累增封邑。蜀將馬岱入寇，帝遣將軍牛金擊走之，斬千餘級。) Jin Shu vol. 1.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 58–59.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 105.