Shi Xie (pronunciation ) (137–226), courtesy name Weiyan, also known by his Vietnamese name Sĩ Nhiếp, was a Chinese military general, politician, and warlord who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty and early Three Kingdoms period of China.[1] He served as the Administrator of Jiaozhi Commandery in present-day northern Vietnam. The third-century historical text Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi) is a major source of Chinese traditions concerning Shi Xie's life.[2] He promoted Buddhism throughout his life. After his death, the Vietnamese attached many legends to him[3] and honoured him as King Sĩ (Vietnamese: Sĩ Vương) in some temples.

Shi Xie / Sĩ Nhiếp
General of the Guards (衛將軍)
In office
after 220 (after 220) – 226 (226)
MonarchSun Quan
General of the Left (左將軍)
In office
210 (210)–220 (220)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
General Who Stabilises Distant Lands
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
General of the Household Who Pacifies the South (綏南中郎將)
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Administrator of Jiaozhi (交趾太守)
In office
187 (187)–? (?)
MonarchEmperor Ling of Han /
Emperor Xian of Han
Personal details
Cangwu County, Guangxi
Died226 (aged 89)
Guangzhou, Guangdong
Relationssee here
Childrensee here
  • Shi Ci (father)
OccupationMilitary general, politician, warlord
Courtesy nameWeiyan (威彥)
PeerageMarquis of Longbian
Posthumous nameThiện Cảm Gia Ứng Linh Vũ Đại Vương (善感嘉應靈武大王)
(awarded by the Trần dynasty of Vietnam)

Family background and early lifeEdit

Shi Xie was in the sixth generation from his ancestors who migrated to northern Vietnam,[4] born in Jiao Province, but his ancestral home was around present-day Tai'an, Shandong. His ancestors moved to Jiao Province when Wang Mang usurped the throne and established the Xin dynasty (9–23) with himself as its emperor. Shi Xie's father, Shi Ci (士賜), served as the Administrator of Rinan Commandery (日南郡) during the reign of Emperor Huan (r. 146–168) of the Eastern Han dynasty. The Shi family was one of the elite families of Han Chinese origin who later emigrated to present-day Vietnam and played a major role in developing Vietnamese civilisation.[5]

In his youth, Shi Xie studied the Zuo Zhuan under the tutelage of one Liu Tao (劉陶) from Yingchuan Commandery (潁川郡). Later, he was nominated as a xiaolian (civil service candidate) and served in the Han central government as a Gentleman of Writing (尚書郎) but was later dismissed because of "official reasons". After his father's death, he was nominated as a maocai (茂才) and was appointed as the Prefect of Wu County (巫縣; present-day Wushan County, Chongqing). In 187, the Han central government reassigned him to be the Administrator (太守) of Jiaozhi Commandery (交趾郡) in Jiao Province.[5]

As a warlord in Jiao ProvinceEdit

Around the time, Zhu Fu (朱符) had been appointed by the Han government to serve as the Inspector of Jiao Province. However, the locals in Jiao Province rebelled and killed him after he attempted to extract heavier taxes from them. The Han government then sent Zhang Jin (張津) to replace him, but Zhang Jin was later murdered by his subordinate Ou Jing (區景). When Liu Biao, the Governor of Jing Province, heard about this, he appointed Lai Gong (賴恭) as the new Inspector of Jiao Province without authorisation from the Han central government. At the same time, he also sent his subordinate Wu Ju (吳巨) to replace the deceased Shi Huang (史璜) as the Administrator of Cangwu Commandery (蒼梧郡). To counter Liu Biao's attempts to extend his influence into Jiao Province, the Han central government issued an imperial decree appointing Shi Xie as General of the Household Who Pacifies the South (綏南中郎將) and putting him in charge of the seven commanderies in Jiao Province.

After Shi Xie sent his subordinate Zhang Min (張旻) to thank the Han central government and pay tribute, the Han central government further promoted him to General Who Stabilises Distant Lands (安遠將軍), in addition to enfeoffing him as the Marquis of Longdu Village (龍度亭侯). Around the time, the Han Empire was in a state of chaos, as various warlords fought for power and territories in northern and central China. Jiao Province, being a remote province in southern China, was not caught up in the chaos. Shi Xie was effectively a warlord in control of Jiao Province even though he was still a nominal subject of the Han Empire. Shi Xie's younger brothers also held important positions in Jiao Province: Shi Yi (士壹), Shi Hui (士䵋) and Shi Wu (士武) were respectively the Administrators of Hepu (合浦), Jiuzhen (九真) and Nanhai (南海) commanderies in Jiao Province.

In 210, Wu Ju got into conflict with Lai Gong and forced him out of Jiao Province. Sun Quan, the warlord who controlled the territories in the Jiangdong region bordering Jiao Province, appointed his subordinate Bu Zhi as the Inspector of Jiao Province to replace Lai Gong. Shi Xie led his followers to submit to Bu Zhi's governorship, but Wu Ju refused and secretly plotted to assassinate Bu Zhi. However, Bu Zhi sensed Wu Ju's intentions and managed to outwit and kill him. Sun Quan later appointed Shi Xie as General of the Left (左將軍) to honour him. At the same time, the warlord Cao Cao, who controlled the Han central government, wanted to gain Shi Xie's support as an ally against Sun Quan, so he conferred the nine bestowments and other honours on Shi Xie in the name of Emperor Xian (the figurehead Han emperor under Cao Cao's control).

As a vassal of Eastern WuEdit

In the years after the fall of the Eastern Han dynasty in 220, Sun Quan declared himself king and established the kingdom (later empire) of Eastern Wu. Shi Xie pledged loyalty to Sun Quan and sent one of his sons, Shi Xin (士廞), as a hostage to Sun Quan to ensure his allegiance towards Wu. He also regularly sent tribute to Sun Quan.[5] During the conflict between Wu and its ally-turned-rival state Shu Han, Shi Xie sided with Wu and instigated Yong Kai (雍闓), a local tribal chief in Shu territory, to rebel against Shu rule and defect to Wu. In recognition of Shi Xie's efforts in inducing Yong Kai to defect, Sun Quan appointed Shi Xie as General of the Guards (衛將軍) and awarded him the title "Marquis of Longbian" (龍編侯). Shi Xie died of illness in 226 around the age of 89.


Shi Xie had at least five sons (in decreasing order of seniority): Shi Xin (士廞), Shi Zhi (士祗), Shi Hui (士徽), Shi Gan (士幹) and Shi Song (士頌).

After Shi Xie died in 226, his third son Shi Hui succeeded him as the Administrator of Jiaozhi Commandery (交趾郡) under the Eastern Wu regime. Around the time, the Wu emperor Sun Quan wanted to split Jiao Province and create another province, Guang Province (廣州): Jiaozhi, Jiuzhen (九真) and Rinan (日南) commanderies would remain part of Jiao Province; Cangwu (蒼梧), Nanhai (南海), Yulin (鬱林) and Hepu (合浦) commanderies would form the new Guang Province. Sun Quan then appointed Dai Liang (戴良) and Lü Dai as the Inspectors of Jiao and Guang provinces respectively. Chen Shi (陳時), a close aide of Sun Quan, was to replace Shi Hui as the Administrator of Jiaozhi Commandery.

In 227, when Shi Hui learnt about the new arrangements, he refused to comply and rebelled against Wu rule by sending his troops to block Dai Liang and Chen Shi from entering Jiao Province. At the time, Huan Lin (桓鄰), one of Shi Hui's subordinates, begged his superior to obey the order and surrender his governorship of Jiaozhi Commandery to Chen Shi. However, Shi Hui refused and had Huan Lin flogged to death. Huan Lin's nephew, Huan Fa (桓發), started a mutiny against Shi Hui and engaged him in a battle that lasted a few months. They made peace after that.

In the meantime, after learning of Shi Hui's rebellion, Sun Quan ordered Lü Dai, the Inspector of Guang Province, to lead troops to recapture Jiaozhi Commandery. Lü Dai, who was close to Shi Hui's cousin Shi Kuang (士匡; a son of Shi Xie's brother Shi Yi 士壹), sent Shi Kuang to persuade Shi Hui to surrender by promising that he would be spared if he did so. Shi Hui and his brothers then opened the gates of Jiaozhi Commandery and surrendered to Lü Dai. The following day, Lü Dai lured the Shi brothers into a trap during a banquet, had them arrested and then read out a list of Shi Hui's crimes. He then executed all of them and sent their heads to Sun Quan, who was in Wuchang (武昌; present-day Ezhou, Hubei) at the time.

Shi Xie's brothers, Shi Yi (士壹) and Shi Hui (士䵋), along with their families, were spared from death but reduced to the status of commoners. Some years later, Shi Yi and Shi Hui were executed for committing crimes.

Earlier in the 220s, Shi Xie had sent his eldest son, Shi Xin (士廞), as a hostage to Sun Quan to ensure the Wu emperor of his allegiance towards him. Shi Xin thus avoided ending up like Shi Hui and his other brothers, who were executed by Lü Dai in 227. Like the rest of the Shi family who survived (e.g. his uncles Shi Yi and Shi Hui 士䵋), he was reduced to the status of a commoner after his brothers' deaths. He died of illness some time later and had no son to succeed him.

Worship of "King Sĩ", Sĩ Tiếp in VietnamEdit

Shi Xie ruled Vietnam as an autonomous warlord for forty years and was posthumously deified by later Vietnamese monarchs.[6] In the words of Stephen O'Harrow, Shi Xie was essentially "the first Vietnamese."[7] According to Holmgren, Shi Xie's rule "is one of the milestones in the development and fusion of two new social groups in Tongking - a sinicised Vietnamese group and a vietnamised Chinese group. The latter gradually came to identify with the interests of the delta rather than with the Chinese empire".[8] Taylor (1983) also believed his imperial appointments gave formal legitimacy to "the emergence of a regional ruling class with strong ties to the local society". It is apparent from events following his death that he "presided over an aberrant regional power arrangement based on great Han-Viet families that could field private armies". From the Chinese's view, Shi Xie stood as a "frontier guardian"; from the Vietnamese side, he was the head of a regional ruling-class society. It was relatively easy for people to shift back and forth between these two perspectives. Thus, the man of Chinese or mixed ancestry playing a mixed role or, in some cases, an unambiguous Vietnamese role is a common figure in early Vietnamese history. "He was the first of many such people to emerge as strong regional leaders who nurtured the local society in the context of Chinese civilization".[9] The people who emerged as Vietnamese leaders during this time were of mixed ancestry: most of their families had already been in Vietnam for several generations; they undoubtedly spoke Vietnamese; and their political outlook was based on the regional interests of Vietnamese society.[10]

Shi Xie is still honoured in some Vietnamese temples today as "King Si" (Sĩ Vương).[11] The Vietnamese history Việt Điện U Linh Tập (; c. 1400) adds significantly to the traditions of the Chinese records with local Vietnamese traditions.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 739.
  2. ^ Werner, Dutton & Whitmore (2012), p. 11.
  3. ^ Keown (2003), p. 326.
  4. ^ Taylor 1983, p. 85.
  5. ^ a b c Taylor (1983), p. 70.
  6. ^ Walker 2012, p. 132.
  7. ^ de Crespigny, Rafe (2004) [1990]. "Empire in the South". Generals of the South: The Foundation and Early History of the Three Kingdoms State of Wu. Internet. Canberra, ACT: Faculty of Asian Studies, The Australian National University. p. 739. ISBN 0731509013. Archived from the original on 9 July 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  8. ^ Holmgren 1980, p. 61.
  9. ^ Taylor 1983, p. 71.
  10. ^ Taylor 1983, p. 86.
  11. ^ Schafer (1967), p. 99.
  12. ^ Dror (2007), p. 15.
  • Chen, Shou (3rd century). Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi).
  • de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms 23-220 AD. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004156050.
  • Dror, Olga (2007). Cult, Culture, and Authority: Princess Liễu Hạnh in Vietnamese History. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0824829727.
  • Holmgren, Jennifer (1980). Chinese Colonization of Northern Vietnam: Administrative Geography and Political Development in the Tonking Delta, First To Sixth Centuries A.D. Australian National University Press.
  • Keown, Damien (2003). A Dictionary of Buddhism. Oxford University Press.
  • Pei, Songzhi (5th century). Annotations to Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi zhu).
  • Schafer, Edward Hetzel (1967). The Vermilion Bird. University of California Press.
  • Sima, Guang (1084). Zizhi Tongjian.
  • Taylor, Keith Weller (1983). The Birth of Vietnam (illustrated, reprint ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 0520074173.
  • Walker, Hugh Dyson (2012), East Asia: A New History, ISBN 978-1477265161
  • Werner, Jayne; Dutton, George Edson; Whitmore, John K., eds. (2012). Sources of Vietnamese Tradition. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231511108.
Preceded by
Administrator of Jiaozhi
Thái Thú Giao Châu

Succeeded by