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Pang Tong

This is a Chinese name; the family name is Pang.

Pang Tong (179–214), [1][2] courtesy name Shiyuan, was an adviser to the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty. Originally a minor official in Nan Commandery in Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan), Pang Tong came to serve Liu Bei in 209 after the latter was appointed as the provincial gov- ernor. In the early 210s, he accompanied Liu Bei on a military campaign to seize control of Yi Province (cov- ering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) from the war- lord Liu Zhang, but was killed by a stray arrow in a battle at Luo County (north of present-day Guanghan, Sichuan) in 214.

1 Early life

Pang Tong was from Xiangyang Commandery ( ; present-day Xiangyang, Hubei). In his youth, he looked plain and simple, so he was not highly regarded. When he reached adulthood (around 19 years old), he visited Sima Hui, who was famous for spotting and recommend- ing men of talent. They came to a mulberry tree, where Sima Hui climbed up to get the fruit while Pang Tong sat below, and they chatted for a whole day until night- fall. Sima Hui felt that Pang Tong was an extraordinary person and called Pang “the crown of learned men in Jing Province". Subsequently, Pang Tong started gaining more recognition among the scholar-gentry. [3] Pang Tong was nicknamed “Fledging Phoenix” ( ; also translated as “Young Phoenix”) by his uncle Pang Degong ( ). [4]

Pang Tong later served as an “Officer of Merit” ( ) in Nan Commandery ( ; in present-day Jingzhou, Hubei). He was an appraiser, and his reviews of persons focused more on their personal virtues rather than their abilities. He was fond of ethical lessons and consistently strove to maintain his moral standards. He usually overpraised when he was asked to assess a person. At times, people were puzzled so they questioned him on why he did that, to which he replied, “The country is currently in a state of disorder. Good people are overwhelmed by the evil. I de- sire to change the social norm through encouraging good people by giving them a better (exaggerated) reputation, so they can serve as role models for others.” [5]

In 209, Zhou Yu, a general under the warlord Sun Quan, occupied Nan Commandery after the Battle of Jiangling. Zhou Yu was appointed as the Administrator ( ) of Nan


Commandery, and Pang continued to serve as a minor of- ficial under Zhou. When Zhou Yu died in 210, Pang Tong travelled to Jiangdong to attend Zhou’s funeral, where he was warmly received by many people, who had heard of him before. Pang Tong met Lu Ji, Gu Shao ( ) and Quan Cong, and he appraised each of them. They were all very pleased with Pang Tong’s comments and befriended him. [6]

2 Serving Liu Bei in Jing Province

Pang Tong became a subject of Liu Bei after the latter as- sumed governorship of Jing Province in late 209. He ini- tially served as an “Assistant Officer” ( ) and as the Pre- fect ( ) of Leiyang County ( ; present-day Leiyang, Hunan), but was later dismissed from office due to poor performance. Sun Quan’s general Lu Su wrote to Liu Bei, recommending Pang Tong as a talent. Liu Bei’s strategist Zhuge Liang also recommended Pang Tong, so Liu Bei recruited Pang to be an “Assistant Officer in the Head- quarters Office” ( ). Liu Bei’s treatment towards Pang Tong was second to that of Zhuge Liang. He later appointed both Pang Tong and Zhuge Liang as “Military Advisor Generals of the Household” ( ). [7]

3 Assisting Liu Bei in the conquest of Yi Province

Around the early 210s, Pang Tong successfully per- suaded Liu Bei to seize Yi Province (covering present- day Sichuan and Chongqing) in western China and use its resources to compete with Cao Cao for supremacy over China. Liu Bei heeded Pang Tong’s suggestion. [8] In 211, Liu Bei led an army from Jing Province into Yi Province on the pretext of helping Yi Province’s governor Liu Zhang counter an invasion from the warlord Zhang Lu in Hanzhong. Zhuge Liang remained behind to guard Jing Province while Pang Tong followed Liu Bei to Yi Province. [9]

Liu Zhang received Liu Bei at Fu County ( ; in present- day Fuling District, Chongqing). Pang Tong urged Liu Bei to use the opportunity to capture Liu Zhang and force the latter to hand over Yi Province, but Liu Bei refused on the grounds that he was new to Yi Province and had



yet to establish a strong reputation there. Liu Zhang later returned to Yi Province’s capital Chengdu. [10]

Pang Tong outlined three plans for Liu Bei to choose from:

The upper plan: Select the best soldiers to form an elite force and advance quickly towards Chengdu, and force Liu Zhang to surrender and hand over Yi Province. Pang Tong also commented that Liu Zhang was not competent in military affairs and was unprepared, so the chances of success were high.

The middle plan: Spread false news that Liu Bei was returning to Jing Province, then lure Liu Zhang’s generals Yang Huai and Gao Pei ( ) away from the fortified mountain passes they were defending, kill them and take control of their positions and troops, and finally advance towards Chengdu.

The lower plan: Retreat to Baidicheng near Jing Province and wait for another opportunity to attack.

Liu Bei chose the middle plan and executed it – he killed Yang Huai and Gao Pei, led his forces towards Chengdu and conquered several of Liu Zhang’s territories along the way. [11]

When Liu Bei expressed joy during a banquet in Fu County to celebrate his victory over Liu Zhang so far, Pang Tong chid him, saying that “celebrating the invasion of others’ territory is not what a man of ren should do”. The drunk Liu Bei retorted angrily, "King Wu of Zhou also rejoiced after his victory over King Zhou of Shang. Is he not an example of a man of ren? You're wrong, so get out now!" After Pang Tong left, Liu Bei regretted his words so he invited Pang back. Pang Tong returned to his seat and did not say anything, so Liu Bei asked, “When that quarrel happened just now, whose fault do you think it was?" Pang Tong replied, “It was both yours and mine.” Liu Bei laughed and the banquet continued. [12]



Pang Tong later participated in a battle against Liu Zhang's forces at Luo County ( ; north of present-day Guanghan, Sichuan). He was hit by a stray arrow while attacking the city and died from his wound. He was 36 years old (by East Asian age reckoning) at the time of his death. Liu Bei was deeply saddened by Pang Tong’s death and he would weep whenever Pang was mentioned. Pang Tong was posthumously granted the titles of a “Secondary Marquis” ( ) and “Marquis Jing” ( ) after Liu Bei founded the state of Shu Han in 221. [13]

Liu Bei had a shrine and tomb constructed for Pang Tong near Luo County. The shrine and tomb is located in

present-day Baimaguan Town ( ), Luojiang County, Deyang, Sichuan. On 25 May 2006, it became a Major Historical and Cultural Site Protected at the National Level. [14]

5 Family and descendants

After Pang Tong’s death, Liu Bei appointed Pang’s father

– whose name was not recorded in history – as a Consul- tant ( ) and later promoted him to a “Counsellor Re- monstrant” ( ). [15]

Pang Tong had a younger brother, Pang Lin ( ), who served as an Assistant Officer in Jing Province's Head- quarters Office ( ). He participated in the Battle of Xiaoting in 221–222 together with the general Huang Quan and was tasked with defending the northern flank from possible attacks by Shu's rival state, Wei. After Liu Bei was defeated by Sun Quan's general Lu Xun at Xi- aoting, Pang Lin and Huang Quan were separated from Liu Bei’s remaining forces and could not return to Shu, so they brought along their troops and surrendered to Wei. Pang Lin served as the Administrator ( ) of Julu Com- mandery ( ) in Wei and received a marquis title. [16]

Pang Tong had a son, Pang Hong ( ), whose courtesy name was “Jushi” ( ). Pang Hong, who served in the Shu government, was known for being frugal, upright and outspoken. He offended Chen Di ( ), the Director of the Imperial Secretariat ( ), and was repressed in his career by the latter. He died in office while serving as the Administrator ( ) of Fuling Commandery ( ). [17]

6 In fiction

Pang Tong is featured as a character in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, which romanticises the historical events before and dur- ing the Three Kingdoms period. In the novel, Pang Tong was portrayed as a brilliant military strategist who equalled Zhuge Liang. Sima Hui recommended Pang Tong and Zhuge Liang as talents to aid Liu Bei through the following lines: “Hidden Dragon and Young Phoenix. If you can get either of them, you will be able to pacify the empire.” [18]

In Chapter 47, prior to the Battle of Red Cliffs, Pang Tong was introduced by Jiang Gan to Cao Cao and he presented

a “chain links strategy” ( ) to Cao. The plan involved

linking Cao Cao’s battleships together with strong iron chains, so as to make the ships more stable when they were sailing, as well as to reduce the chances of Cao’s soldiers falling seasick due to excessive rocking. This contributed to Cao Cao’s defeat as his battleships were unable to separate from each other during the fire attack in the battle, and when one ship is set aflame, the other ships linked to it caught fire as well. [19]

Pang Tong’s death during the war between Liu Bei and Liu Zhang was highly dramatised in Chapter 63. At the outset of the battle at Luo County ( ; present- day Guanghan, Sichuan), before Liu Bei and Pang Tong would split forces for a two-pronged attack, Pang Tong’s horse reared and threw him off its back. This was re- garded as a bad omen. Liu Bei then let Pang Tong bor- row his famous steed, Dilu ( ). However, Dilu was also said to bring bad luck to its rider despite saving Liu Bei’s life earlier. Liu Zhang’s general Zhang Ren, who planned an ambush near Luo County, recognized Dilu and mis- took its rider to be Liu Bei, so he ordered his archers to fire at the rider. Pang Tong was hit by several ar- rows which pierced through his body and he died on the spot. His place of death was called "Valley of the Fallen Phoenix". [20]

7 Modern references

Pang Tong is featured as a playable character in Koei's Dynasty Warriors, Warriors Orochi and Dynasty Tactics video game series.

In Koihime Musou, Pang Tong appears as a shy and re- served young girl called Hinari Shigen Houtou. First ap- pearing in episode 10 of Shin Koihime Musou, Hinari lives with Zhuge Liang / Shuri Koumei Shokatsuryou teacher.

8 See also

9 References


The Sanguozhi stated that Pang Tong died at the age of 36 (by East Asian age reckoning) in 214 CE. By calculation, his birth year should be around 179.

[2] de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A biographical dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23–220 AD). Brill. p. 689. ISBN 978-90-04-15605-0.


[9] ( ) Sanguozhi vol. 37.

[10] ( , : , , , : , Sanguozhi vol. 37.

[11] ( : , , ; , , , , , Sanguozhi vol. 37.

[12] ( , , : , : , , : Sanguozhi vol. 37.

[13] ( , , , , , , ) Sanguozhi vol. 37.


001 [Zhaohua Gucheng 001] (4 June 2014). " [Pang Tong Shrine and Tomb]". (in Chinese). Retrieved 1 January 2015.

[15] ( , , ) Sanguozhi vol. 37.

[16] ( , , , , , ) Sanguozhi vol. 37.

[17] ( , , , , , ) San- guozhi vol. 37.

[18] Sanguo Yanyi ch. 35.

[19] Sanguo Yanyi ch. 47-50.

[20] Sanguo Yanyi ch. 63.

[3] ( , , , , , , , ) Sanguozhi vol. 37.

[4] ( : , , , ) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 37.

[5] ( , , , , : , , , , , , Sanguozhi vol. 37.

[6] ( , , , , , : , : , Sanguozhi vol. 37.

[7] ( , , , : , , , , , , Sanguozhi vol. 37.

[8] ( : : , , , , , , , , , , : , , Jiuzhou Chunqiu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 37.



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