Ma Lin (Water Margin)

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For other people named Ma Lin, see Ma Lin (disambiguation).
Ma Lin
Water Margin character
Nickname "Iron Flute Deity"
Rank 67th, Bright Star (地明星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends
Tiger Cub Scouting General of Liangshan
Origin Bandit leader from Mount Yellow Gate
Ancestral home / Place of origin Jiankang Prefecture (present-day Nanjing, Jiangsu)
First appearance Chapter 41
Weapon Pair of sabers
Simplified Chinese 马麟
Traditional Chinese 馬麟
Pinyin Mǎ Lín
Wade–Giles Ma Lin
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Ma.

Ma Lin is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 67th of the 108 Liangshan heroes and 31st of the 72 Earthly Fiends. He is nicknamed "Iron Flute Deity".


Ma Lin is from Jiankang Prefecture (建康府; present-day Nanjing, Jiangsu). He is highly skilled in martial arts and is capable of fighting dozens of opponents at the same time while armed with his weapons – a pair of bronze sabers. However, he is better known for his talent in playing the flute, for which he earns the nickname "Iron Flute Deity".

Ma Lin is one of the leaders of a group of bandits based on Mount Yellow Gate (黃門山), alongside Ou Peng, Tao Zongwang and Jiang Jing.

Joining Liangshan[edit]

After saving Song Jiang and Dai Zong in Jiangzhou (江州; east of present-day Chongzuo, Guangxi), the outlaws from Liangshan Marsh are making their way back to base when they passed by Mount Yellow Gate along the way. The four bandit chiefs stop the Liangshan outlaws and request to join them. Song Jiang agrees and they return to Liangshan together.

Ma Lin participates in many of the campaigns against the enemies of Liangshan and makes great contributions. He disguises himself as a constable and pretends to arrest Li Ying and Du Xing and brings them to Liangshan to join the outlaw band.

Campaigns and death[edit]

Ma Lin becomes one of the leaders of the Liangshan cavalry 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, Ma Lin is assigned to attack Black Dragon Ridge (烏龍嶺; northeast of present-day Meicheng Town, Jiande, Hangzhou, Zhejiang), where he engages the enemy general Bai Qin in battle. Ma Lin is knocked off his horse by Bai Qin while he is distracted. Shi Bao, another of Fang La's general, uses the opportunity to kill Ma Lin by slicing him into two after he is down.