Wen Tianxiang

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Duke of Xinguo

Wen Tianxiang
Grand Chancellor of the Song Dynasty
In office
Serving with Chen Yizhong (1275 – 1276)
MonarchEmperor Gongdi
Emperor Duanzong
Emperor Bingdi
Preceded byJia Sidao
Succeeded byLu Xiufu
Personal details
Born6 June 1236
Luling, Jiangnan West Circuit, Great Song (present-day Ji'an, Jiangxi)
Died9 January 1283(1283-01-09) (aged 46)
Khanbaliq, Yuan Empire (present-day Beijing)
Statue of Man Tin Cheung in San Tin, Hong Kong.

Wen Tianxiang (Chinese: ; pinyin: Wén Tiānxiáng; Cantonese Yale: Man Tin Cheung; June 6, 1236 – January 9, 1283 AD), Duke of Xinguo (信國公), was a scholar-general in the last years of the Southern Song Dynasty. For his resistance to Kublai Khan's invasion of the Song Dynasty, and for his refusal to yield to the Yuan Dynasty despite being captured and tortured, he is a popular symbol of patriotism and righteousness in China. He is known as one of the 'Three Loyal Princes of the Song' (大宋三忠王), alongside Lu Xiufu and Zhang Shijie.[1]

His continuing symbolic importance was evident in an event that took place in Wen Tianxiang's historical shrine in Haifeng (Haifeng County) in 1908, where Chen Jiongming persuaded over thirty young men from the village to swear secret support for a national revolution.[2]


Wen was born on 6 June 1236 in Luling (Ji'an), Jiangxi Province during the Song Dynasty. At the age of 18, he excelled in his local examinations, and two years later participated in examinations in the capital, during which he was personally awarded first rank by Emperor Lizong. He would subsequently take up several posts in the government of the Southern Song, including being Attendant (郎官) of the Justice Ministry and Prefect of Ganzhou.

In 1278, Wen was captured by the invading Yuan armies of Kublai Khan. He was offered a Yuan post and ordered to convince the remaining Song forces to surrender. Wen refused and suffered for 4 years in a military prison before his execution in 1283. The idea of working for a government that his people traditionally viewed as "barbaric" was incompatible with his traditional Song values. During this time he wrote the famous classics "Song of Righteousness" (正氣歌), and "Passing Lingdingyang". One phrase from the Song of Righteousness has since entered the Chinese lexicon:

All men are mortal, but my loyalty will illuminate the annals of history forever.

Ancestry and descendants[edit]

Wen Tianxiang adopted the three sons of his younger brother when his two sons died young.

There are now at least six branches of the Wen family in the provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan, Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian, and in Hong Kong and overseas locations.[3] Local dialect pronunciations would be Man (Cantonese), Vun (Hakka), and Bun (Hokkien).[3] The Man clan are considered one of the original founding families in the history of Hong Kong.

The well-known Ming dynasty painter and calligrapher Wen Zhengming also belonged to the Wen family. The mother of Mao Zedong, Wen Qimei, was a descendant as well.

One of the oldest continuous branches of the Wen family established itself in the Hengyang/Hengshan area of present-day Hunan shortly after AD 1000. A branch of this Wen family settled in the United States in the mid-1940s and is related through marriage to the prominent Sun family of Shouxian, Anhui (Sun Jianai; Fou Foong Flour Company 福豐麵粉廠) and the Li family of Hefei, Anhui (Li Hongzhang).


Man Tin Cheung Memorial Park in San Tin, Hong Kong


Wen Tianxiang's hometown in Ji'an, Jiangxi honors the famous national hero with a mausoleum. Exhibitions of paintings, calligraphy, and even army uniforms supposedly left by Wen are displayed in the Wen Family Ancestral Temple in Futian. The Wen Tianxiang Mausoleum is located in Wohushan.


The Memorial to Prime Minister Wen Tianxiang was built in 1376 during the reign of the Hongwu Emperor of the Ming dynasty. The location of Wen's execution is thought to be near the entrance to Fuxue Alley in the East City District of Beijing and a memorial has been established on the northern side of the entrance to South Fuxue Alley near Beixinqiao.

"The Song Dynasty's Top Ranking Scholar and Prime Minister, the West River's Filial Son and Loyal Subject," is carved into the columns of the memorial's main hall.


In the late 1950s and 1960s, a place called Tapido [zh], within the present Taroko National Park, was renamed "Tianxiang" in memory of Wen Tianxiang during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway. Tianxiang is now a famous resort in the east of Taiwan.

In addition, three streets also take their name from Wen (i.e. the "Tianxiang Road"). One is in Zhongshan District, Taipei nearby the Minquan W. Road MRT Station, another is in Sanmin District, Kaohsiung and the other is in Xiulin, Hualien County.

Hong Kong[edit]

The San Tin area in the New Territories of Hong Kong is home to many villagers surnamed "Man" in Cantonese. The "Man" villagers trace their ancestry to Man Tin Cheung via Man Tin-Sui, also a famous Song Dynasty general and the cousin of Man Tin Cheung.

A Man Tin Cheung Memorial Park and "Man" ancestral hall and residence (Tai Fu Tai Mansion) in San Tin are historical attractions in Hong Kong.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 当代海外华人社团研究 (in Chinese). 厦门大学出版社. 1995. p. 352. ISBN 9787561509876.
  2. ^ Leslie H. Dingyan Chen (1999). Chen Jiongming and the Federalist Movement: Regional Leadership and Nation Building in Early Republican China. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, pp 13–14
  3. ^ a b "Ancestry and Descendants of Wen Tianxiang". Cultural China. Retrieved 9 September 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Writing Poetry as Diary: Wen Tianxiang's Poem Series Yuan-fang Tung, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • "Writ in Blood": Wen Tianxiang's Lyric Songs Yang Ye, University of California, Riverside
  • Intellectual and Aesthetic Contexts for Wen Tianxiang's Poetry Michael A. Fuller, University of California, Irvine
  • Brown, William Andreas (1986). WEN T'IEN-HSIANG: A Biographical Study of a Sung Patriot. Chinese Materials Center Publications. ISBN 0-89644-643-3.
  • Wan, Shengnan 萬繩楠 (1996). Wen Tianxiang 文天祥 (in Chinese). Zhonghe, Taiwan: Zhi Shu Fang 知書房出版社. ISBN 957-8622-309.
  • Yang, Deen 楊德恩 (1939). Chronological Biography of Wen Tianxiang 文天祥年譜 (in Chinese). The Commercial Press.

External links[edit]