Friday, September 19, 2008

Huyuan Zhuo

Huyuan Zhuo is a greatly respected hero and one of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of Liangshan in the epic tale, the ''Water Margin''.

Main biography

He was known to be the descendant of Huyuan Zan, a famous general in the founding years of the Song Dynasty. He was brave and excellent in martial arts, wielding a pair of steel rods in battle which earned him the nickname 'Double Clubs' . His choice of colour was black, as evidenced by his flags and armour. This was also most likely a trait passed down by his ancestors who also often donned black in the "Hu Family Chronicles".

Before joining the Liangshan outlaws though, Huyuan Zhuo was personally summoned by the Emperor to lead the Imperial army and purge the Liangshan bandits' lair once and for all . Wielding his unmistakable dual steel rods and riding on his powerful steed, Huyuan Zhuo was an imposing sight to say the least. Aided by Peng Qi, the 'Eye of Heaven General' and Han Tao, the 'Ever Victorious General', Huyuan was also famous for being the vanguard of the armoured chain cavalry. Song Jiang and his men certainly had a challenging time defeating Huyuan Zhuo, but the latter was eventually outwitted. Huyuan Zhuo did not dare to return to the capital city after his defeat and went to join Governor Murong of Qingzhou. On his way to Qingzhou, he passed by Taohua Mountain and his steed was stolen. Huyuan was furious and he sought help from the Qingzhou troops to attack Taohua Mountain, which brought the Liangshan heroes into the picture as well when they came to reinforce Taohua Mountain. The Liangshan heroes laid an ambush outside Qingzhou and managed to capture Huyuan Zhuo. Eventually, Huyuan Zhuo was persuaded and he too joined the Liangshan heroes, thus forsaking all his imperial titles and riches to become an outlaw who upheld justice and eliminated corruption. He aided the Liangshan heroes later in conquering Qingzhou.

Huyuan Zhuo pretended to be a turncoat when the Liangshan bandits were at war with Guan Sheng and the Imperial forces . Huyuan Zhuo lured Guan Sheng to a trap set by Wu Yong and Guan was captured and he surrendered to the Liangshan bandits. Huyuan Zhuo went on to become one of the five tiger generals of the Liangshan cavalry and 36 Heavenly Spirits.

Later, together with the rest of the brothers Huyuan Zhuo accepted the amnesty with the Imperial Court and went on the expeditions with the Liangshan heroes against the invading Liao Tartars and the Southern rebels such as Fang La. He was one of the few lucky ones who survived the expeditions, and was offered a high military post in the Court due to his contributions. Huyuan Zhuo died a martyr subsequently in the war against the invading troops.

Huyuan Zhuo's Cavalry

Huyuan Zhuo's heavy cavalry in his days as an imperial general were extremely formidable. The cavalry consisted of heavily armored horses, linked together with chains, and topped of by heavily armoured horse archers. The cavalry formed a system much like a modern tank where it was impossible to block or stand in its way.

The linking of the horses later proved to be the systems greatest flaw. With the help of Xu Ning, the Liangshan heroes were able to trick and trap the cavalry, then by using Xu Ning's hooked spears to pull down the chained horses. This eventually led to the demise of Huyuan Zhuo's imperial army.

Films and TV adaptations

In the 1997 TV serial from Mainland China based on the novel, Huyuan Zhuo was played by Jia Shitou. Also, he was captured after his cavalry was defeated by the Liangshan heroes when he was chasing Song Jiang.

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