|Water Margin character|
|Rank||74th, Different Star (地異星) of the 72 Earthly Fiends|
|Infantry leader of Liangshan|
|Origin||Bandit leader from Mount Qingfeng|
|Ancestral home / Place of origin||Suzhou, Jiangsu|
|First appearance||Chapter 32|
Zheng Tianshou is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 74th of the 108 Liangshan heroes and 38th of the 72 Earthly Fiends. He is nicknamed "Fair-skinned Gentleman".
The novel describes Zheng Tianshou as a handsome man with a fair complexion, a lean build and broad shoulders; his appearance earns him the nickname "Fair Skinned Gentleman". He is from Suzhou, Jiangsu. He has been practising martial arts since childhood and used to lead a wandering life. One day, while passing by Mount Qingfeng (清風山; in present-day Qingzhou, Weifang, Shandong), he encounters a group of bandits, who attempt to rob him. He fights with Wang Ying, one of the two bandit chiefs, and manages to hold his ground well. Neither of them emerges the victor after several rounds of fighting. Wang Ying and Yan Shun, the other bandit chief, are so impressed with Zheng Tianshou's skills that they invite him to join them. Zheng Tianshou agrees and becomes the third chief of the gang.
When Song Jiang is on his way to Qingfeng Fort (清風寨; near Mount Qingfeng) to take shelter under his friend Hua Rong, he passes by the bandit stronghold along the way and is ambushed and captured by the bandits, who intend to use his heart and liver to make soup. Just as he is about to be killed, Song Jiang sighs, "Am I, Song Jiang, destined to die just like that?" The three bandit chiefs overhear him and are stunned when they hear his name, because they have heard of Song Jiang's reputation as a generous and chivalrous hero who helps those in need, and have been wanting to meet him. After Song Jiang confirms his identity, the three bandit chiefs immediately releases him, apologise to him, and treat him like an honoured guest. In the meantime, Wang Ying has just kidnapped a woman and wants to rape her. After she reveals herself to be the wife of Liu Gao, the official in charge of Qingfeng Fort, Song Jiang sympathises with her and manages to persuade Wang Ying to let her go.
Song Jiang leaves the stronghold and makes his way to the fort to join Hua Rong. While touring the fort later, he is recognised by Liu Gao's wife, who repays his kindness with evil by accusing him of attempting to rape her. Liu Gao believes his wife and has Song Jiang arrested and imprisoned. Hua Rong intervenes and attempts to free Song Jiang by force, but is lured into a trap by Huang Xin and ends up being captured too. Liu Gao then orders Huang Xin and his soldiers to escort Song Jiang and Hua Rong as prisoners back to Qingzhou (in present-day Shandong) for the higher-ranked officials to decide their fates. Along the way, Yan Shun, Wang Ying and Zheng Tianshou lead their bandit followers to ambush the convoy and rescue Song Jiang and Hua Rong. The bandits eventually defeat the government forces and capture Qingfeng Fort, after which they travel to Liangshan Marsh together to join the outlaw band there.
Campaigns and death
Zheng Tianshou becomes one of the leaders of the Liangshan infantry 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 is killed in action at the battle of Muzhou (睦州; in present-day Hangzhou, Zhejiang) during the campaign against the rebel leader Fang La.
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- Buck, Pearl. All Men are Brothers. Moyer Bell Ltd, 2006. ISBN 9781559213035.
- Zhang, Lin Ching. Biographies of Characters in Water Margin. Writers Publishing House, 2009. ISBN 978-7506344784.
- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.
- Miyamotois, Yoko. Water Margin: Chinese Robin Hood and His Bandits.
- (Japanese) Ichisada, Miyazaki. Suikoden: Kyoko no naka no Shijitsu. Chuo Koronsha, 1993. ISBN 978-4122020559.
- Shibusawa, Kou. Bandit Kings of Ancient China. KOEI, 1989.