Often depicted wearing a robe and holding a fan made of crane feathers, 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 person grew even while he was living in relative seclusion, gaining him the nickname "The Hidden Dragon" (alternatively translated as "Crouching Dragon" or "Sleeping Dragon").
The warlord Liu Bei harbored 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 in person three times. Zhuge Liang soon presented his famous Longzhong Plan before Liu Bei, travelled in person to Eastern Wu and formed an alliance with 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 that Zhuge Liang called forth a southeastern wind to sweep Huang Gai's fire-attack throughout Cao Cao's ships. In reality, however, it was the Wu officer Zhou Yu who masterminded the fire attack. In folklore, the wind is attributed to either Zhuge Liang's magic or his ability to predict the weather.
The union with Sun Quan broke down when Wu general Lü Meng invaded the Jing Province in 219 when its defender Guan Yu was at the Battle of Fancheng. Guan Yu was eventually captured by the Wu forces and was decapitated. Liu Bei, infuriated with the execution of his longtime comrade, ignored all arguments of his well-meaning subjects and turned on Eastern Wu, leading a huge army to seek revenge. He was defeated in the ensuing Battle of Yiling by Lu Xun and died in the lone 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, and renewed the alliance with Sun Quan. Despite Liu Bei's request that Zhuge Liang assume control of Shu Han should his son prove to be an incompetent leader, Zhuge did not, serving Liu Shan unwaveringly.
During his reign as regent, Zhuge Liang pursued the goal of restoring the Han Dynasty, which, in Shu's point of view, was usurped by Cao Wei. Zhuge Liang felt that in order to attack Wei he would first have to unify Shu Han completely. If he fought in the north while the Nanman people rebelled in the south, then the Nanman people would march further and perhaps even press into areas surrounding the capital. So rather than embarking on a northern invasion, Zhuge Liang led an army to pacify the south first.
Ma Su, brother of Ma Liang, proposed the plan that Zhuge Liang should work toward getting the tribes to join him rather than trying to subdue all of them and he took this plan. Zhuge Liang defeated the rebel leader, Meng Huo, seven different times, but released him each time in order to achieve his genuine surrender.
Finally, Meng Huo agreed to join Zhuge Liang in a genuine acquiescence, and thus Zhuge Liang appointed Meng Huo governor of the region, so he could govern it as he already had, keeping the populace content, and keeping the southern Shu border secure to allow for the future Northern Expeditions. Zhuge Liang also obtained resources from the south, and after this, Zhuge Liang made his moves north.
From 228 until his death in 234, Zhuge Liang launched five Northern Expeditions against Cao Wei, but all except one failed, usually because his food supplies ran out rather than failure 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.
During his first Northern Expedition, Zhuge Liang persuaded Jiang Wei, a general of Cao Wei, to defect to Shu Han. Jiang Wei would become one of the prominent Shu generals, and inheritor of Zhuge Liang's ideals. On the fifth expedition, he died of overwork and illness in an army camp in the Battle of Wuzhang Plains at the age of 54. At Zhuge's recommendation, Liu Shan commissioned Jiang Wan to succeed him as Regent.
In the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhuge Liang attempted to extend his lifespan by twelve years, but failed when the ceremony was disturbed when Wei Yan rushed in, announcing the arrival of the Wei army. 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 at the eve of his death.
Zhuge Liang sat with Lu Su inside one of the boats drinking wine. The Wei soldiers, unable to see in the fog, fired many volleys of arrows at the sound of the drums. The straw men were soon filled with arrows, and Zhuge Liang returned to Wu having fulfilled his promise.
Hence, the Chinese expression "草船借箭" ("Straw boat borrows arrows") refers to the act of using someone's strength against him or her.
Suddenly, Lu Xun saw an old man standing before his horse, who then asked if Lu needed assistance out of the array. Lu Xun followed the man and exited the maze unharmed. The old man revealed himself to be Zhuge Liang's father-in-law Huang Chengyan, and 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 stumble across this maze as he constructed the structure, and asked Huang Chengyan not to lead the general out when that happens. Lu Xun immediately dismounted from his horse and thanked Huang Chengyan, and when he returned to his camp, he exclaimed that he could never top the genius of Zhuge Liang.
Zhuge Liang ordered all the gates to be opened and had civilians 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 and strategist Sima Yi approached the fort with the Wei military, he was puzzled by the scene and ordered his troops to retreat.
Zhuge Liang later told the bewildered civil officers that the strategy only worked because Sima Yi was a man of suspicion, the latter having personally witnessed the success of Zhuge Liang's highly effective ambushing and misdirection tactics many times before. Furthermore, Zhuge Liang had a reputation as a keen but extremely careful military tactician who rarely took risks. Zhuge Liang's well-known carefulness, coupled with Sima Yi's own suspicious nature, led Sima Yi to the conclusion that entry into the apparently empty city would have drawn his troops into an ambush. It is unlikely the same strategy would have worked on someone else, and indeed Sima Yi's son Sima Zhao saw through the ruse immediately and counseled his father against retreat.
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 floating 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. An early type of hot air balloon used for military signalling called the Kongming lantern is also named after him.
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 that are generally available. Supposedly, his mastery of infantry and cavalry formation tactics based upon the Taoist I-Ching were unrivalled. His Chu Shi Biao, written before the Northern Expeditions, was considered so moving that it was said that if one read it and shed no tears, the reader would be a disloyal person.
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 remembrance of Zhuge Liang and his unwavering dedication to his cause, against overwhelming odds. Some historians believe that Du Fu 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) |
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 the early Toyotomi Hideyoshi in Japan, was himself often likened to Zhuge Liang due to his reputation as an exceptional strategist, and due to a fictional account of Hideyoshi gaining Shigeharu's services after visiting him three times in a similar manner to Liu Bei's Three Visits.
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.
From Evolution of Dialect "Huoguo" to Harmonious Essence of Jing-Chu Culture/ DE L'ÉVOLUTION DU DIALECTE "HUOGUO" À L'ESSENCE DE L'HARMONIE DE LA CULTURE DES ROYAUMES JING ET CHU
May 01, 2009; Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to study the relationship of language and culture from a typical microscopic perspective...