Shi Qian

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Shi Qian
Water Margin character
First appearance Chapter 46
Nickname "Flea on a Drum"
Rank 107th, Thief Star (地賊星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends
Scout leader of Liangshan
Origin Thief, tomb raider
Ancestral home / Place of origin Gaotangzhou (present-day Gaotang County, Liaocheng, Shandong)
Weapon Pudao
Simplified Chinese 时迁
Traditional Chinese 時遷
Pinyin Shí Qiān
Wade–Giles Shih Ch'ien

Shi Qian is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 107th of the 108 Liangshan heroes and 71st of the 72 Earthly Fiends. He is nicknamed "Flea on a Drum".


Shi Qian is a thief from Gaotangzhou (高唐州; present-day Gaotang County, Liaocheng, Shandong). Although he has an ugly appearance, he is extremely agile and nimble. He is nicknamed "Flea on a Drum" for his excellent thieving skills. He is active in the area around Jizhou (蓟州; present-day Ji County, Tianjin) and once ran into trouble with the authorities but was saved by the jailer Yang Xiong.

Joining Liangshan[edit]

One day, after robbing a tomb, he chances upon Yang Xiong and secretly witnesses him killing his adulterous wife, Pan Qiaoyun. He overhears Yang Xiong discussing with Shi Xiu about joining the outlaw band at Liangshan Marsh and reveals himself to them. He then threatens to report them to the authorities if they do not bring him along to Liangshan. The three of them travel together and stop at an inn in the Zhu Family Village for a break.

They run into trouble in the village after Shi Qian steals a hen and gets into a fight with the villagers. Shi Qian falls into a trap and is captured by the Zhus while fleeing from the village, while Yang Xiong and Shi Xiu manage to escape to the neighbouring Li Family Village. Li Ying, the chief of the Li Family Village, writes an apology letter to the Zhus on behalf of Yang Xiong, Shi Xiu and Shi Qian, and requests that the Zhus release Shi Qian. However, the Zhus refuse and insult Li Ying, who is so furious that he leads his followers to the Zhu Family Village to confront his overbearing neighbours. He is wounded by an arrow fired by Zhu Biao, the youngest of the Zhu brothers, and is forced to retreat back to his own village.

Yang Xiong and Shi Xiu travel to Liangshan to seek help. Song Jiang leads the Liangshan outlaws to attack the Zhu Family Village and succeed in rescuing Shi Qian. Shi Qian joins the outlaw band and plays an important role in recruiting Xu Ning during the battle between the outlaws and imperial forces. He breaks into Xu Ning's house, steals Xu's golden armour and lures Xu to Liangshan. Xu Ning decides to join Liangshan after being persuaded by Song Jiang and after seeing his old colleague Lin Chong, who was forced to become an outlaw due to corruption in the government. Xu Ning helps the Liangshan outlaws defeat the imperial forces.

Campaigns and death[edit]

Shi Qian becomes one of the scout 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. He survives the final campaign against the rebel leader Fang La, but dies from an intestinal disease on the journey back to the imperial capital.