Xuan Zan

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Xuan Zan
Water Margin character
First appearance Chapter 63
Nickname "Ugly Prince Consort"
Rank 40th, Prominence Star (地傑星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends
Tiger Cub Scouting General of Liangshan
Origin Military officer
Weapon Saber
Simplified Chinese 宣赞
Traditional Chinese 宣贊
Pinyin Xuān Zàn
Wade–Giles Hsüan Tsan

Xuan Zan is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 40th of the 108 Liangshan heroes and 4th of the 72 Earthly Fiends. He is nicknamed "Ugly Prince Consort".


Water Margin describes Xuan Zan as an ugly-looking man eight chi tall, with a face like the bottom of a wok, an upward pointing nose, messy hair and a red beard. Xuan Zan has a large stature and excels in martial arts. He wields a saber in combat.

A prince recognises Xuan Zan's outstanding combat abilities and decides to marry his daughter to him. Xuan Zan is thus nicknamed "Ugly Prince Consort". However, the princess is not pleased with Xuan Zan's looks and dies in anguish and hatred later. Xuan Zan falls out of favour from government officials due to his looks and had since remained as an unnoticed talent. He serves in the local county office as a minor military officer.

Becoming an outlaw[edit]

Lu Junyi is arrested and imprisoned in Daming Prefecture (in present-day Handan), after his housekeeper and adulterous wife betray him. The outlaws from Liangshan Marsh form an army to attack Daming Prefecture to rescue Lu. Grand Secretary Liang Shijie, the official in charge of Daming Prefecture, writes a letter to the imperial court, asking for reinforcements to deal with the outlaws, who are besieging the city.

Xuan Zan recommends Guan Sheng to the Imperial Tutor, Cai Jing. Cai Jing orders Guan Sheng to lead reinforcements to Daming Prefecture to lift the siege. Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen serve as Guan Sheng's deputies and leaders of the vanguard army. Guan Sheng is lured into a trap by Huyan Zhuo and he is captured. Xuan Zan is defeated and captured by Liangshan's Qin Ming. Song Jiang treats the captives with respect and succeeds in persuading them to join the Liangshan cause of "delivering justice on Heaven's behalf".

After Guan Sheng's defection, Cai Jing sends Shan Tinggui and Wei Dingguo to lead another army to attack the outlaws. Guan Sheng volunteers to lead Liangshan's forces to counter the imperial armies, with Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen as his deputies. Xuan Zan is lured by Wei Dingguo into the enemy formation where he is defeated and captured, and escorted as a prisoner-of-war back to Daming Prefecture. Along the way, the bandits from Mount Deadwood led by Bao Xu and Li Kui attack the convoy and rescue Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen.

Campaigns and death[edit]

Xuan Zan becomes one of the leaders of the Liangshan cavalry after the Grand Assembly. He 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 Fang La, he is assigned to attack the enemy city of Suzhou. He encounters the enemy general Guo Shiguang and engages him in a fierce fight under Yinma Bridge, where they perish together.