Lady Sun, also known as Sun Ren in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Sun Shangxiang[a] in Chinese opera and contemporary culture, was a Chinese noblewoman who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty.[1] She was a daughter of the warlord Sun Jian and Lady Wu, and her older brothers were the warlords Sun Ce and Sun Quan, who founded the state of Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period. Sometime in 209, she married the warlord Liu Bei to strengthen an alliance between Liu Bei and Sun Quan. Around 211, she returned to Sun Quan's domain when Liu Bei left Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan) and settled in Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing).

Lady Sun
SunShangxiang.jpg
A Qing dynasty illustration of Lady Sun
BornUnknown
DiedUnknown
SpouseLiu Bei
HouseHouse of Sun
FatherSun Jian
MotherEmpress Wulie

LifeEdit

Lady Sun was the only daughter of Sun Jian and Lady Wu. She had four brothers who were also born to Lady Wu – Sun Ce, Sun Quan, Sun Yi and Sun Kuang.[2][3] Her personal name was not recorded in history.

During 209,[4] Lady Sun married the warlord Liu Bei to strengthen an alliance between Liu Bei and Sun Quan. The marriage probably took place at Gong'an County because it was the provincial capital of Jing Province and Liu Bei was nominally serving as the provincial governor at the time.[b] Lady Sun was known to be talented and bright. Also bold and extremely fierce in character with a personality that remind of her elder brothers. She had more than a hundred female servants who carried swords and stood guard outside her room.[7] Liu Bei was also suspicious and fearful of Lady Sun. Liu Bei's adviser Zhuge Liang once said: "When our lord [Liu Bei] was in Gong'an, he dreaded Cao Cao's influence in the north and feared Sun Quan's presence in the east. Even in home territory he was afraid that Lady Sun would cause trouble."[8] In 211,[9] Fa Zheng was sent by Liu Zhang to form an alliance with Liu Bei against the future threat posed by Cao Cao in Hanzhong. While he was in Jing Province, he met Lady Sun who left quite an impression on him since he urged Liu Bei to have her sent back to Wu.[10]

Lady Sun saw herself as the sister of a powerful warlord, and not only acted in an arrogant, unbridled manner, but also allowed her bodyguards and personal staff to behave lawlessly in Jing Province. For this reason, Liu Bei specially appointed his general Zhao Yun, whom he deemed a serious and conscientious person, to oversee domestic affairs in Jing Province and maintain law and order.[11] Around 211,[12] Liu Bei left Jing Province on a campaign to attack the warlord Liu Zhang in Yi Province while Lady Sun remained behind in Jing Province. When Sun Quan heard that Liu Bei had travelled to Yi Province, he sent a ship to fetch her. Lady Sun attempted to bring Liu Bei's son Liu Shan, who was born to Liu Bei's other wife Lady Gan, with her to Sun Quan's territory. However, Zhao Yun and Zhang Fei, another of Liu Bei's generals, led their men to intercept her along the way and retrieve Liu Shan.[13][14] Nothing was recorded in history about what happened to Lady Sun after she returned home.

Family treeEdit

NamesEdit

Other names of Lady Sun include:

  • Sun Ren (孙仁; 孫仁; Sūn Rén; Sun Jen), in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.[15]
  • Sun Shangxiang (孙尚香; 孫尚香; Sūn Shàngxiāng; Sun Shang-hsiang), in drama and popular culture.
  • Xiao Ji (枭姬; 梟姬; Xiāo Jī; Hsiao Chi; 'fierce lady'), nickname in popular culture.
  • Gongyao Ji (弓腰姬; Gōngyāo Jī; Kung-yao Chi; 'lady with a waist like a bow'), nickname in the Japanese translation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Eiji Yoshikawa.

In Romance of the Three KingdomsEdit

Lady Sun appears as a character in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which romanticizes the historical events before and during the Three Kingdoms period. Her name was Sun Ren (孫仁) in the novel,[15] which depicts her as a fiery, determined woman skilled in martial arts. Fictitious events in the novel include her marriage to Liu Bei and subsequent suicide when she heard false news of his death.

In popular cultureEdit

 
Peking opera star Li Shengsu as Sun Shangxiang, Beijing, 4 January 2020.

Lady Sun is a playable character in Koei's Dynasty Warriors video game series. She also appears in Warriors Orochi, a crossover between Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors. She is referred to as "Sun Shang Xiang" in the first seven installments of the series, and as "Sun Shangxiang" from the eighth installment onwards.

In Koei's Kessen 2 she is named "Sun Li" and is one of Liu Bei's many love interests.

Chinese actress Zhao Wei portrayed Sun Shangxiang in the 2008 Chinese epic war film Red Cliff directed by John Woo. In the first part, she and her all-female bodyguards lure Cao Cao's troops into an ambush. In the second part, she infiltrates Cao Cao's camp and draws a map of the enemy formation.


Lady Sun was portrayed by Pets Tseng in the 2009 Taiwanese idol drama series K.O.3an Guo, which spoofs Romance of the Three Kingdoms in a present-day high school setting. In the drama, Sun is the love interest of Xiu, who is the Iron Dimension counterpart of Liu Bei.

In the game Total War: Three Kingdoms she is named Sun Ren. Initially appearing as a child in the family tree of Sun Jian's campaign, Sun Ren becomes a playable character later in the game when she is an adult.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ See this section for details.
  2. ^ Liu Bei's biography in the Sanguozhi mentioned that Sun Quan feared Liu Bei's influence after the latter became the Governor of Jing Province, so he arranged a marriage between his sister and Liu Bei.[5] Sun Quan's biography in the Sanguozhi stated that Liu Bei became the Governor of Jing Province in the 14th year of Jian'an (209), so Lady Sun most probably married Liu Bei in 209.[6]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ de Crespigny (2007), pp. 763–764.
  2. ^ (孫破虜吳夫人,吳主權母也。 ... 生四男一女。) Sanguozhi vol. 50.
  3. ^ (志林曰:堅有五子:策、權、翊、匡,吳氏所生;少子朗,庶生也,一名仁。) Zhi Lin annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 46.
  4. ^ (權以妹妻備。妹才捷剛猛,有諸兄風,侍婢百餘人,皆執刀侍立,備每入,心常凜凜。) Zizhi Tongjian vol. 66.
  5. ^ (琦病死,群下推先主為荊州牧,治公安。權稍畏之,進妹固好。) Sanguozhi vol. 32.
  6. ^ (十四年, ... 劉備表權行車騎將軍,領徐州牧。備領荊州牧,屯公安。) Sanguozhi vol. 47.
  7. ^ (初,孫權以妹妻先主,妹才捷剛猛,有諸兄之風,侍婢百餘人,皆親執刀侍立,先主每入,衷心常凜凜;亮又知先主雅愛信正,故言如此。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  8. ^ (亮荅曰:「主公之在公安也,北畏曹公之彊,東憚孫權之逼,近則懼孫夫人生變於肘腋之下; ...) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  9. ^ Zizhi Tongjian vol. 66.
  10. ^ (孫夫人才捷剛猛,有諸兄風。侍婢百人先主每下車,心常凜凜。正勸先主還之。) Huayang Guo Zhi vol. 6.
  11. ^ (雲別傳曰: ... 先主入益州,雲領留營司馬。此時先主孫夫人以權妹驕豪,多將吳吏兵,縱橫不法。先主以雲嚴重,必能整齊,特任掌內事。) Yun Biezhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
  12. ^ (孫權聞備西上,遣舟船迎妹,而夫人慾將備子禪還吳,張飛、趙雲勒兵截江,乃得禪還。) Zizhi Tongjian vol. 66.
  13. ^ (權聞備西徵,大遣舟船迎妹,而夫人內欲將後主還吳,雲與張飛勒兵截江,乃得後主還。) Yun Biezhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 36.
  14. ^ (漢晉春秋云:先主入益州,吳遣迎孫夫人。夫人欲將太子歸吳,諸葛亮使趙雲勒兵斷江留太子,乃得止。) Han Jin Chunqiu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 34.
  15. ^ a b (吳夫人之妹,即為孫堅次妻,亦生一子一女:子名朗,字早安;女名仁。) Sanguo Yanyi ch. 7.
  • Chen, Shou (3rd century). Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi).
  • Chang Qu (4th century). Chronicles of Huayang (Huayang Guo Zhi).
  • de Crespigny, Rafe (2004). Generals of the South: The foundation and early history of the Three Kingdoms state of Wu (internet ed.). Canberra: Faculty of Asian Studies, Australian National University. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07.
  • de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms 23-220 AD. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004156050.
  • Luo, Guanzhong (14th century). Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Yanyi).
  • Pei, Songzhi (5th century). Annotations to Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi zhu).
  • Sima, Guang (1084). Zizhi Tongjian.