Lady Sun

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Lady Sun
A Qing dynasty illustration of Lady Sun
Born Unknown[1]
Died Unknown[1]
Spouse Liu Bei
House House of Sun
Father Sun Jian
Mother Lady Wu

Lady Sun, known as Sun Shangxiang[a] in Chinese opera and contemporary culture, was a noble lady who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty. She was a daughter of the warlord Sun Jian and his wife Lady Wu, and a younger sister of the warlords Sun Ce and Sun Quan, who founded the state of Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period. Sometime in 209, she married the warlord Liu Bei to strengthen an alliance between Liu Bei and Sun Quan. Around 211, she returned to Sun Quan's domain when Liu Bei left Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan) and settled in Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing).


Lady Sun was the only daughter of Sun Jian and Lady Wu. She had four brothers who were also born to Lady Wu – Sun Ce, Sun Quan, Sun Yi and Sun Kuang.[2][3] Her personal name was not recorded in history.

Sometime in 209,[4] Lady Sun married the warlord Liu Bei to strengthen an alliance between Liu Bei and Sun Quan. The marriage probably took place at Gong'an County because Gong'an County was the provincial capital of Jing Province and Liu Bei was nominally serving as the provincial governor at the time.[b] Lady Sun was known to be wise and shrewd, and tough and fierce in character, very much like her brother Sun Quan. She had more than a hundred female servants who carried swords and stood guard outside her room. Whenever Liu Bei entered her room, he felt a chill in his heart.[7] Liu Bei was also suspicious and fearful of Lady Sun. Liu Bei's adviser Zhuge Liang once said: "When our lord (Liu Bei) was in Gong'an, he dreaded Cao Cao's influence in the north and feared Sun Quan's presence in the east. Even in home territory he was afraid that Lady Sun would cause trouble."[8]

Around 211,[9] Liu Bei left Jing Province on a campaign to attack the warlord Liu Zhang in Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) while Lady Sun remained behind in Jing Province. Liu Bei knew that his general Zhao Yun was a serious and conscientious person, so he specially put Zhao Yun in charge of domestic affairs (in Jing Province). When Sun Quan heard that Liu Bei had travelled to Yi Province, he sent a ship to fetch his sister back. Lady Sun attempted to bring Liu Bei's son Liu Shan, who was born to Liu Bei's first wife Lady Gan, with her back to Sun Quan's territory. However, Zhao Yun and Zhang Fei, another of Liu Bei's generals, led their men to intercept her along the way and retrieve Liu Shan.[10] Nothing was recorded in history about what happened to Lady Sun after she returned home.

Family tree[edit]


Other names of Lady Sun include:

  • Sun Ren (孙仁; 孫仁; Sūn Rén; Sun Jen), in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.[11]
  • Sun Shangxiang (孙尚香; 孫尚香; Sūn Shàngxiāng; Sun Shang-hsiang), in drama and popular culture.
  • Xiao Ji (枭姬; 梟姬; Xiāo Jī; Hsiao Chi; "fierce lady"), nickname in popular culture.
  • Gongyao Ji (弓腰姬; Gōngyāo Jī; Kung-yao Chi; "lady with a waist like a bow"), nickname in the Japanese translation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Eiji Yoshikawa.

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms[edit]

Lady Sun appears as a character in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which romanticises the historical events before and during the Three Kingdoms period. Her name was Sun Ren (孫仁) in the novel,[11] in which she is depicted as a very fiery and determined woman.

See the following for some fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms involving Lady Sun:

In popular culture[edit]

Lady Sun is one of the first female playable characters to make a debut in Koei's Dynasty Warriors video game series. She also appears in Warriors Orochi, a crossover between Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors. She is referred to as "Sun Shang Xiang" in the first seven instalments in the series, and as "Sun Shangxiang" from the eighth instalment onwards.

In Koei's Kessen 2 she is named "Sun Li" and is one of Liu Bei's many love interests.

Chinese actress Zhao Wei portrayed Sun Shangxiang in the 2008 Chinese epic war film Red Cliff directed by John Woo. In the first part, she and her all-female bodyguards lured Cao Cao's troops into an ambush. In the second part, she infiltrates Cao Cao's camp and draws a map of the enemy formation.

Lady Sun is referenced in the game and anime series Koihime Musō in which she is named "Sonshōkō" (or "Shaoren"). She charges out of the kingdom to fight against the Hongo Faction who are falsely accused of betraying the Go faction. After being captured by Hongo Faction and clearing up the misunderstanding, she likes Kazuto and enjoys playing around with him.

Lady Sun was portrayed by Pets Tseng in the 2009 Taiwanese idol drama series K.O.3an Guo, which spoofs Romance of the Three Kingdoms in a present-day high school setting. In the drama, Sun is the love interest of Xiu, who is the Iron Dimension counterpart of Liu Bei.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See this section for details.
  2. ^ Liu Bei's biography in the Sanguozhi mentioned that Sun Quan feared Liu Bei's influence after the latter became the Governor of Jing Province, so he arranged a marriage between his sister and Liu Bei.[5] Sun Quan's biography in the Sanguozhi stated that Liu Bei became the Governor of Jing Province in the 14th year of Jian'an (209), so Lady Sun most probably married Liu Bei in 209.[6]


  1. ^ a b de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A biographical dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23–220 AD). Brill. pp. 763–764. ISBN 978-90-04-15605-0. 
  2. ^ (孫破虜吳夫人,吳主權母也。 ... 生四男一女。) Sanguozhi vol. 50.
  3. ^ (志林曰:堅有五子:策、權、翊、匡,吳氏所生;少子朗,庶生也,一名仁。) Zhi Lin annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 46.
  4. ^ (權以妹妻備。妹才捷剛猛,有諸兄風,侍婢百餘人,皆執刀侍立,備每入,心常凜凜。) Zizhi Tongjian vol. 66.
  5. ^ (琦病死,群下推先主為荊州牧,治公安。權稍畏之,進妹固好。) Sanguozhi vol. 32.
  6. ^ (十四年, ... 劉備表權行車騎將軍,領徐州牧。備領荊州牧,屯公安。) Sanguozhi vol. 47.
  7. ^ (初,孫權以妹妻先主,妹才捷剛猛,有諸兄之風,侍婢百餘人,皆親執刀侍立,先主每入,衷心常凜凜;亮又知先主雅愛信正,故言如此。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  8. ^ (亮荅曰:「主公之在公安也,北畏曹公之彊,東憚孫權之逼,近則懼孫夫人生變於肘腋之下; ...) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  9. ^ (孫權聞備西上,遣舟船迎妹,而夫人慾將備子禪還吳,張飛、趙雲勒兵截江,乃得禪還。) Zizhi Tongjian vol. 66.
  10. ^ (雲別傳曰: ... 先主入益州,雲領留營司馬。此時先主孫夫人以權妹驕豪,多將吳吏兵,縱橫不法。先主以雲嚴重,必能整齊,特任掌內事。權聞備西徵,大遣舟船迎妹,而夫人內欲將後主還吳,雲與張飛勒兵截江,乃得後主還。) Yun Biezhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
  11. ^ a b (吳夫人之妹,即為孫堅次妻,亦生一子一女:子名朗,字早安;女名仁。) Sanguo Yanyi ch. 7.