Zhuge Liang: Wikis


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Zhuge Liang
Zhuge Liang.jpg
Zhuge Liang holding his trademark feather fan.
Chancellor of Shu Han
Born 181
Yinan, Shandong, China
Died 234, aged 52-53
Wuzhang Plains, Shaanxi, China
Simplified Chinese 诸葛亮
Traditional Chinese 諸葛亮
Pinyin Zhūgě Liàng
Wade-Giles Chu-ko Liang
Courtesy name Kongming (孔明)
Posthumous name Marquis Zhongwu (忠武侯)
Other names Wòlóng (臥龍) Crouching Dragon
Fúlóng (伏龍) Sleeping Dragon
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhuge (諸葛).

Zhuge Liang (traditional Chinese: simplified Chinese: pinyin: Zhū Liàng, 181–234) was Chancellor of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He is often recognised as the greatest and most accomplished strategist of his era.[1]

Often depicted wearing a robe and holding a fan made of crane feathers,[2] Zhuge was not only an important military strategist and statesman; he was also an accomplished scholar and inventor. His reputation as an intelligent and learned scholar grew even while he was living in relative seclusion, earning him the nickname "Wòlóng" (臥龍, or "Sleeping Dragon").

Zhuge is an uncommon two-character compound family name. His name – even his surname alone – has become synonymous with intelligence and tactics in Chinese culture.



Early life

Zhuge Liang was born in Yangdu County (陽都) in Langya Commandery (琅琊), at present-day Yinan County (沂南), Shandong Province. He was the second of three brothers and became orphaned at an early age; his mother died when he was nine, and his father when he was twelve. His uncle raised him and his siblings.[3] When Cao Cao invaded Shandong in 195, his family was forced to flee south and his uncle soon died of illness.

Both his sisters were married into notable families with numerous relations in the area. For ten years he resided in Longzhong Commandery (隆中; in present-day Hubei province)[3] with his brothers Zhuge Jin and Zhuge Jun (諸葛均), leading a simple peasant life – farming by day and studying at night.

The Temple of the Marquis of Wu in Chengdu, a temple worshipping Zhuge Liang.

He developed friendships among the local intelligentsia. His reputation grew and he was nicknamed the "Crouching (or Sleeping) Dragon", an indication of his wisdom in various fields as his peers view him. He married the daughter of Huang Chengyan, whose wife was the sister of Lady Cai (wife of the warlord Liu Biao and sister of Cai Mao). The name of Zhuge Liang's wife is rumored to be Huang Yueying. The Huang family was also related to several other established clans in the region.

Rise to prominence

The warlord Liu Bei resided in the neighboring city Xiangyang under his distant relative and the governor of the Jing Province (荊州), Liu Biao. Zhuge Liang joined Liu Bei in 207 only after Liu Bei visited him personally thrice.[1][I] Zhuge Liang presented his Longzhong Plan to Liu Bei and travelled to Eastern Wu to form an alliance between Liu Bei and its ruler Sun Quan.

In the Battle of Red Cliffs of 208, the allied armies of Liu Bei and Sun Quan defeated Cao Cao, thus enabling Liu Bei to establish his own territories. The historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms described Zhuge Liang calling forth a southeastern wind to enhance Huang Gai's fire-attack by spreading the flames across Cao Cao's ships[4]. In reality, however, it was Zhou Yu who masterminded the fire attack. In folklore, the wind is attributed to either Zhuge Liang's magic or his ability to make accurate predictions of the weather.

The alliance with Sun Quan was broken when the Wu general Lü Meng invaded Jing Province in 219 while its defender Guan Yu was at the Battle of Fancheng. Guan Yu was captured by the Wu forces and decapitated. Liu Bei was infuriated by the execution of his longtime comrade and he ignored all advice from his subjects to hold back. He led an army to attack Eastern Wu and was defeated in the ensuing Battle of Yiling by Lu Xun. Liu died in the fortress of Baidicheng after a hasty and humiliating retreat to his own borders. After the death of Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang became the chancellor of Shu Han under Liu Shan, Liu Bei's son. He reaffirmed the alliance with Eastern Wu.[3] Despite Liu Bei's request that Zhuge Liang assume control of Shu Han if Liu Shan proved to be an incompetent leader, Zhuge declined the offer and continued to serve Liu Shan with unwavering loyalty.

Southern Expedition

During his reign as regent, Zhuge Liang set Shu Han's objective as to restore the Han Dynasty. The Han Dynasty had been usurped by Cao Wei from Shu's point of view. Zhuge Liang felt that in order to attack Wei, a complete unification of Shu-Han is first needed.[5] He was worried that the Nanman tribes in the south might rise in rebellion and press into areas surrounding the capital city of Chengdu while he was leading the army to attack Cao Wei in the north. Zhuge Liang decided to pacify the southern tribes first.

Ma Su, brother of Ma Liang, proposed that Zhuge Liang should attempt to win the hearts of the Nanman peoples and rally their support instead of using military force to subdue all of them. Zhuge Liang heeded Ma's suggestion and defeated the rebel leader, Meng Huo, seven different times. He released Meng each time in order to achieve Meng's genuine surrender.[6]

Meng Huo agreed to join Zhuge Liang in a genuine acquiescence. Zhuge Liang appointed him as governor of the region to keep the populace content and secure the southern Shu border. This would ensure that the future Northern Expeditions would proceed without internal disruptions.[5] Zhuge Liang also obtained resources from the south, and after this, Zhuge Liang made his moves north.

Northern Expeditions

From 228 until his death in 234, Zhuge Liang launched five Northern Expeditions against Cao Wei, but all except one failed. The failure was usually caused by the shortage or exhaustion of food supplies rather than defeat on the battlefield. His only permanent gain was the addition of the Wudu (武都) and Yinping (陰平) prefectures as well as relocating Wei citizens to Shu on occasion.[7]

During the first Northern Expedition, Zhuge Liang persuaded Jiang Wei of Cao Wei to defect to Shu Han.[7] Jiang Wei would become one of the prominent Shu generals and inherit Zhuge Liang's ideals. On the fifth expedition, Zhuge died of illness in the camp in the Battle of Wuzhang Plains at the age of 54. On Zhuge's recommendation, Liu Shan commissioned Jiang Wan to succeed him as regent.[8]

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhuge Liang attempted to extend his lifespan by twelve years through a ritual. He failed when the ritual was disturbed by Wei Yan, who rushed in to warn about the advance of the Wei army.[9]. The novel also related a story of Zhuge Liang passing the 24 Volumes on Military Strategy (兵法二十四篇) to Jiang Wei prior to his death[10].

Romance of the Three Kingdoms

The wisdom and achievements of Zhuge Liang were popularised by Romance of the Three Kingdoms attributed to Luo Guanzhong more than a millennium after the Three Kingdoms era ended. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms itself draws from historical sources, including Chen Shou's Records of Three Kingdoms. Other major influences include Liu Yiqing's Shishuo xinyu or A New Account of Tales of the World, published 430, and the Sanguozhi pinghua, a chronological collection of eighty fictional sketches starting with the peach garden oath and ending with Zhuge Liang's death.

Several accounts (in relation to Zhuge Liang) contained in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms which have been considered fictitious are:

Using straw boats to borrow arrows

Before the Battle of Red Cliffs, Zhuge Liang visited the Wu camp to assist Zhou Yu. Zhou Yu saw Zhuge Liang as a threat to Eastern Wu and was also jealous of Zhuge Liang's talent. He assigned Zhuge Liang the task of making 100,000 arrows in ten days or face execution for failure in duties under military law. Zhuge Liang promised that he will finish this seemingly impossible task in three days. He requested 20 large boats, each manned by a few soldiers and filled with straw human-like figures. Before dawn, Zhuge Liang ordered his soldiers to beat war drums and shout orders so as to imitate the noise of an attack.

Upon hearing the drums, the Wei soldiers rushed out to meet the "attack".

Zhuge Liang drank wine with Lu Su on one of the boats. The Wei soldiers were unable to see through the fog and fired volleys of arrows at the sound of the drums. The straw figures were soon penetrated by many arrows, which became stuck in the straw. Zhuge Liang returned to Wu in triumph.

After removing the arrows from the straw figures' bodies, Zhuge Liang discovered there were over 100,000 arrows.

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms records this event, whereas no such account can be found in the historical accounts. The historical accounts do record the same strategem being performed by Sun Quan in the Battle of Ruxu.

Stone Sentinel Maze

In Chapter 84, as Lu Xun pursued the fleeing Liu Bei after the Battle of Yiling, he felt a strong enemy presence near Baidicheng and cautioned his army for possible ambush. He sent scouts ahead, who reported that the area was empty except for some scattered piles of stones. Bewildered, he asked one of the locals, who answered that Qi started to emerge from the area after Zhuge Liang had arranged the stones there. Lu Xun personally inspected the area and determined that the array was only a petty display of deception. He led a few cavaliers into the array. Just as he was about to come out, a strong gust of wind blew. Dust-storms shadowed the sky and the stones became swords, mountainous piles of dirt emerged while the waves of the Yangtze River sounded like swords and drums. Lu Xun exclaimed, "I have fallen into Zhuge's trap!" and attempted to exit to no avail.

Suddenly, Lu Xun saw an old man standing before him, who asked him if he needed assistance in getting out of the array. Lu Xun followed the man and exited the maze unharmed. The old man identified himself as Zhuge Liang's father-in-law Huang Chengyan. Huang explained that the array is constructed using the ideas of the Bagua. Huang Chengyan said that Zhuge Liang had predicted that a Wu general would chance upon this maze when he first constructed the structure. Zhuge asked Huang Chengyan not to lead the general out when that happens. Lu Xun immediately dismounted from his horse and thanked Huang Chengyan. When he returned to his camp, he exclaimed that he could never beat Zhuge Liang in intelligence.

Empty Fort Strategy

During the first Northern Expedition, Zhuge Liang's efforts to capture Chang'an were undermined by the loss at the Battle of Jieting. With the loss of Jieting, Zhuge Liang's current location, Xicheng (西城), was in great danger. With the army deployed elsewhere and left with only a handful of civilian officers in the city, Zhuge Liang decided to use a ploy to ward off the approaching Wei army.

Zhuge Liang ordered all the city gates to be opened and had two soldiers sweeping the roads while he sat high up on the gates calmly playing his zither with two children beside him. When the Cao Wei commander Sima Yi approached the fort with the Wei military, he was uncertain by the scene, and, assuming there was an ambush waiting for his army, retreated his troops.

Zhuge Liang later told the bewildered civil officers that the strategy only worked because Sima Yi was suspicious by nature. Sima had personally witnessed the success of Zhuge Liang's highly effective ambushing and misdirection tactics many times before so he probably felt suspicious when he saw the open scene before him just now. Besides, Zhuge Liang had a reputation as a keen but extremely careful military tactician who rarely took risks. Zhuge Liang's meticulousness, coupled with Sima Yi's suspicions, led Sima Yi to the conclusion that the seemingly empty fort had a hidden ambush inside. It is unlikely the same strategy would have worked on someone else. Indeed, Sima Yi's son Sima Zhao saw through the ruse immediately and advised his father against retreat.

According to Professor Yi Zhongtian, this event could not have taken place due to these reasons; Firstly, Sima Yi was not present at the site where this event took place as he was stationed far away in Wancheng (宛城) according to historical records. Secondly, it was impossible to have gotten to such close proximity to Zhuge Liang to watch his facial expressions and hear him play the zither clearly and if so, the Wei army could have ordered an archer to shoot down Zhuge Liang. Thirdly, based on Sima Yi’s expertise in military strategy, Sima Yi would possibly have ordered his army to surround the city and not attack even if he believed that there was an ambush inside, to verify that his assumption was true.


Zhuge Liang's name is synonymous with wisdom in the Chinese language. He was believed to be the inventor of the Mantou, the landmine and a mysterious, efficient automatic transportation device (initially used for grain) described as a "wooden ox and flowing horse" (木牛流馬), which is sometimes identified with the wheelbarrow. Although he is often credited with the invention of the repeating crossbow which is named after him, called Zhuge Nu, i.e. Zhuge Crossbow, this type of semi-automatic crossbow is actually an improved version of a model that first appeared during the Warring States Period (though there is debate whether the original warring states bow was semi-automatic, or rather shot multiple bolts at once). Nevertheless, Zhuge Liang's version could shoot further and faster. He is also credited for constructing the mysterious Stone Sentinel Maze, an array of stone piles that is said to produce supernatural phenomenon, located near Baidicheng.[11] An early type of hot air balloon used for military signalling called the Kongming lantern is also named after him.[12]

Some books popularly attributed to Zhuge Liang can be found today. For example, the Thirty-Six Stratagems, and Mastering the Art of War (not to be confused with Sun Tzu's The Art of War) are two of Zhuge's works that are generally available. Supposedly, his mastery of infantry and cavalry formation tactics based upon the Taoist I-Ching were unrivalled. His petition Chu Shi Biao was written prior to the Northern Campaigns and it provided a salutary reflection of Zhuge Liang's unwavering loyalty to Shu-Han. The petition moved readers to tears.

He is also the subject of many Chinese literary works. A poem by Du Fu, one of the most prolific poets from the Tang Dynasty, was written in memory of Zhuge Liang and his unwavering dedication to his cause, against overwhelming odds. Some historians believe that Du Fu had compared himself with Zhuge Liang in the poem. The full text is:

蜀相 (also 武侯祠


Premier of Shu (also Temple of the Marquis of Wu)

Where to seek the temple of the noble Premier?
In the deep pine forests outside the City of Silk:
Where grass-covered steps mirror the colours of spring,
And among the leaves orioles empty songs sing.
Three visits brought him the weight of the world;
Two emperors he served with one heart.
Passing ere his quest was complete,
Tears damp the robes of heroes ever since.

Bai Chongxi, a military leader of the Republic of China and warlord from Guangxi province, earned the laudatory nickname "Little Zhuge" due to his tactical decisions in the Second Sino-Japanese War during World War II.

Takenaka Shigeharu, a Sengoku Period Samurai who served under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was often likened to Zhuge Liang for his reputation as an exceptional strategist. There is also a fictional account of Shigeharu entering Hideyoshi's service after the latter visited him thrice in a manner reminiscent of Liu Bei's three visits.

Portrayals in popular culture

Films/TV series

Zhuge Liang was played by veteran Chinese actor Tang Guoqiang in the 1994 CCTV series Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Zhuge was featured as a minor character in the 2008 film Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon and was portrayed by Pu Cunxin. Takeshi Kaneshiro played Zhuge Liang in John Woo's Red Cliff.

Zhuge Liang as he appears in Koei's Dynasty Warriors 6.

Video games

Zhuge Liang's reputation for being an unparalleled genius is also emphasised in his portrayal in video games. Reflecting his status as the most highly regarded strategist in the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, games such as Destiny of an Emperor and Koei's Romance of the Three Kingdoms series place Zhuge Liang's intelligence statistic as the highest of all characters.

In Dynasty Warriors 5, he helps to unite the land, but he dies while looking outside. In DW6, he somehow survives his illness and continues to support Shu. In DW4 Xtreme Legends, he sets up a plan to get Jiang Wei to join Shu. In DW5 Xtreme Legends, he works with Wei Yan and Zhang Fei to recruit Ma Chao and defeat Zhang Lu.

In Dynasty Tactics, he has no facial hair, has long hair, and looks a lot younger.

Zhuge Liang is the protagonist in Koei's tactical role-playing game Sangokushi Koumeiden, where he can die at the Wuzhang Plains, as he did historically, or go on to restore the Han Dynasty under Emperor Xian. He also appears in Koei's popular Dynasty Warriors series. For more information, see List of Dynasty Warriors characters.

Zhuge Liang is also a main character on the second delivery of Koei's Kessen game also depicting him as a master strategist as well as the main enemy to beat on the Wei campaign. In this game, he is young, but an extremely powerful controller of the elements and a really tall man.

Zhuge Liang is portrayed as a young girl in the Japanese eroge Koihime Musō.

In Warriors Orochi, Zhuge Liang pretends to be an ally of Orochi. While he was facing Zhao Yun's forces and Sun Ce's forces, Zhuge betrayed Da Ji and had her show him where Liu Bei was being held. In Warriors Orochi 2, he discovers Da Ji's hideout in Shi Ting, and he and his wife, Huang Yue Ying, help to capture both Da Ji and Himiko. He later suspects Taigong Wang of purposefully letting go of Da Ji and Himiko. In Dream Mode, he teams up with Zhou Yu, Takeda Shingen, Taishi Ci, and Gan Ning in repelling Shima Sakon's forces, Uesugi Kenshin, and Sima Yi.

In the collectible card game Magic the Gathering there is a card named Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon", in the Portal: Three Kingdoms set.


The young 'Chu-Ko Liang' is a member of the League of Infinity in the superhero pastiche Supreme by Alan Moore.


In the Manhwa Faeries' Landing, the protagonist of the story is a high-school student named Ryang Jegal, whose life is turned upside-down by a fairy and her heavenly (and not-so-heavenly) peers. Ryang Jegal, or Jegal Ryang in the proper Asian sequence, is the Korean translation of Zhuge Liang.

See also


I.^  Other historical sources contradict this story by saying that it was Zhuge Liang who went to visit Liu Bei and offered his services.[citation needed]



  1. ^ a b "Zhuge Liang - Kong Ming, The Original Hidden Dragon". JadeDragon.com. http://www.jadedragon.com/archives/history/liang1.html. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  2. ^ "Ancient Cultivation Stories: Zhuge Liang's Cultivation Practise". ClearHarmony.net. 28 July 2005. http://www.clearharmony.net/articles/200507/27920.html. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  3. ^ a b c "Zhuge Liang, Three Kingdoms Period". TravelChinaGuide.com. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/history/three_kingdoms/zhugeliang.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  4. ^ Luo Guanzhong, Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel: Volume II, translated by Moss Roberts. page 852-856. Foreign Languages Press. Tenth Printing 2007. First Edition 1995. Beijing, China 1995. ISBN 978-7-119-00590-4
  5. ^ a b (Chinese) Zhuge Liang; Zhang Zhu; Xizhong Duan; Xuchu Wen (1960). 諸葛亮集 (Zhuge Liang ji). Beijing: Zhonghua shu ju. OCLC 21994628. 
  6. ^ Walter Ta Huang (1967). Seven times freed. New York: Vantage Press. OCLC 2237071. 
  7. ^ a b (Chinese) Zhizhong Luo (2003). 諸葛亮 (Zhuge Liang). Taizhong: Hao du chu ban you xian gong si. ISBN 9574555763. OCLC 55511668. 
  8. ^ "Advisors of Shu Kingdom". 3Kingdoms.net. http://www.3kingdoms.net/shuadv.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  9. ^ Luo Guanzhong, Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel: Volume IV, translated by Moss Roberts. page 1886-1888. Foreign Languages Press. Tenth Printing 2007. First Edition 1995. Beijing, China 1995. ISBN 978-7-119-00590-4
  10. ^ Luo Guanzhong, Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel: Volume IV, translated by Moss Roberts. page 1889. Foreign Languages Press. Tenth Printing 2007. First Edition 1995. Beijing, China 1995. ISBN 978-7-119-00590-4. In note 1 of chapter 104 - see page 2189 - Roberts mentions the Zhuge Liang ji (AD 274, which Chen Shou compiled)
  11. ^ Zhuge Liang; Liu Ji; Thomas Cleary (1989). Mastering the art of war. Boston: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 0877735131. OCLC 19814956. 
  12. ^ Yinke Deng (2005). Ancient Chinese inventions. ISBN 7508508378. http://books.google.com/books?id=ssO_19TRQ9AC&pg=PA113&ots=vDEuq_hKqc&dq=Kongming+balloon&sig=c3NT-uzoBYhzq203Qofw6XR9MH0. 



  • Dawei, Zhu; Mancang, Liang (2007). 诸葛亮大传 (Zhuge Liang da zhuan). Beijing Shi: Zhonghua shu ju. ISBN 9787101056389. OCLC 173263137. 

External links

Simple English

Zhuge Liang (181-234) was a Chinese politician and general of the ancient Shu Han Dynasty.

He helped his lord Liu Bei conquer the country Ba Shu from 211 to 214, along with Pang Tong. After Liu Bei's death in 223, Zhuge Liang was a regent for the new emperor Liu Shan. Zhuge Liang attempted to conquer the Southern Wei territories five times but had no success. He died in 234, leaving the regency to Jiang Wei.

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