Pei Xuan

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Pei Xuan
Water Margin character
First appearance Chapter 44
Nickname "Iron Face"
Rank 47th, Upright Star (地正星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends
Chief Justice of Liangshan
Origin Magistrate
Ancestral home / Place of origin Jingzhao Prefecture (around present-day Xi'an, Shaanxi)
Simplified Chinese 裴宣
Traditional Chinese 裴宣
Pinyin Péi Xuān
Wade–Giles P'ei Hsüan

Pei Xuan is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 47th of the 108 Liangshan heroes and 11th of the 72 Earthly Fiends. He is nicknamed "Iron Face".


Pei Xuan is from Jingzhao Prefecture (京兆府; around present-day Xi'an, Shaanxi), where he serves as a magistrate. He has a reputation for being stern and for always going according to the book in dishing out sentences to criminals, without showing mercy. He does not yield to threats and bribes. As such, he earns himself the nickname "Iron Face". Apart from his expertise in law, he is also well versed in swordsmanship and scholarly arts.

Pei Xuan's reputation as a fair and just magistrate ultimately gets him into trouble with corrupt officials, who fear that he might interfere in their affairs. They frame him for insubordination, which results in him being arrested and sentenced to exile on Shamen Island (沙門島; present-day Changdao County, Yantai, Shandong). Along the way, he passes by Yinma River (飲馬川; in present-day Ji County, Tianjin), where a bandit gang led by Deng Fei and Meng Kang is active. The bandits attack the guards and free Pei Xuan, who feels so grateful to them that he joins the gang. He becomes their chief because he is the oldest among the trio.

Joining Liangshan[edit]

One day, Dai Zong passes by Yinma River and meets the trio. Dai Zong invites them to join the outlaw band at Liangshan Marsh and they agree. They disguise themselves as soldiers and travel to Liangshan. Pei Xuan is appointed as the chief military judge of Liangshan after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny. He oversees the handing out of rewards and punishments and serves as Liangshan's de facto Chief Justice.

Pei Xuan 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 Wang Qing, Pei Xuan, Xiao Rang and Jin Dajian are captured by Wang Qing's general Liang Yong. They are subjected to torture but they refuse to surrender. Later, Liang Yong's subordinate betrays his superior, kills him and frees the three men.

Pei Xuan is one of the few lucky survivors after the final campaign against the rebel forces of Fang La. He is offered an official post by the emperor in recognition of his contributions but declines the offer and returns to Yinma River with Yang Lin.