Sun Li (Water Margin)

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Sun Li
Water Margin character
First appearance Chapter 33
Nickname "Sick Yuchi"
Rank 39th, Brave Star (地勇星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends
Tiger Cub Scouting General of Liangshan
Origin Garrison major from Dengzhou (in present-day Shandong)
Weapon Spear, steel clubs
Simplified Chinese 孙立
Traditional Chinese 孫立
Pinyin Sūn Lì
Wade–Giles Sun Li

Sun Li is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 39th of the 108 Liangshan heroes and 3rd of the 72 Earthly Fiends. He is nicknamed "Sick Yuchi".


The novel describes Sun Li as eight chi tall, having a broad face with whiskers and jet black eyes. He is highly skilled in martial arts and archery and uses a variety of weapons in combat. His favourite weapons are a pair of steel clubs, similar to those wielded by Huyan Zhuo. He is impatient by nature and is often likened to Yuchi Gong. However, he has a paler complexion and is thus nicknamed "Sick Yuchi" as people who are pale are often believed to be ill.

Sun Li's ancestral home is in Qiongzhou (瓊州; present-day Hainan). He serves as a garrison major in Dengzhou (登州; in present-day eastern Shandong). He has a younger brother named Sun Xin, who is nicknamed "Little Yuchi". Sun Xin is married to Gu Dasao.

Joining Liangshan[edit]

Once, Sun Li receives a distress call from Yue He and learns that his sister-in-law's cousins Xie Zhen and Xie Bao have been framed, imprisoned and sentenced to death. Sun Li combines forces with Yue He, his brother and sister-in-law, Zou Run and Zou Yuan, to raid the prison and rescue the Xie brothers. They flee to Liangshan Marsh for refuge after that and become outlaws.

At that time, the Liangshan outlaws are locked in a stalemate during a battle with the Zhu Family Village. Sun Li is a former fellow student of Luan Tingyu, a martial arts instructor of the village. He decides to make use of his relationship with Luan to conduct an espionage mission, bringing along those who followed him to Liangshan earlier. They receive a warm welcome from Luan and the Zhu brothers.

However, the Zhus are suspicious of Sun Li's allegiance to them initially. Sun Li proves his loyalty by capturing Liangshan's Shi Xiu during a duel. The Zhus then believe that Sun Li is genuinely faithful to them. Sun Li and his teamwork together with the Liangshan forces to bring down the Zhus and capture the village, making his first major contribution to Liangshan. He participates in the subsequent battles against the enemies of Liangshan.


Sun Li becomes one of the scouting generals of the Liangshan cavalry after the Grand Assembly. He follows the Liangshan heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong. He survives the calamitous campaign against Fang La and returns to the capital to receive his reward from the emperor in recognition of his contributions. He is reinstated as a garrison major in Dengzhou.

Other appearances[edit]

In Iron Arm, Golden Saber, Sun Li is portrayed as a fellow student of Zhou Tong and Luan Tingyu. They learn martial arts from a Shaolin martial artist called Tan Zhengfan. Zhou Tong becomes a drill instructor of the Imperial Guards and he recommends Sun Li to be a garrison major in Dengzhou.[1]


  1. ^ Wang, Yunheng; Xiao, Yunlong (1986), Tiebi Jindao Zhou Tong Zhuan (铁臂金刀周侗传; "Iron Arm, Golden Sabre: The Biography of Zhou Tong") (in Chinese), Hangzhou, China: Zhejiang People's Publishing House , UBSN (Union Books and Serials Number) CN (10103.414) and 464574.