The Heroic Lu Zhishen

The Heroic Lu Zhishen

Shen Yun Performing Arts

One hundred and eight “heroes” form the main characters in the classic Chinese novel Outlaws of the Marsh. Unlucky number 13 is Lu Zhishen, a brash 8-foot-tall giant who loved to drink.

Originally named Lu Da, this minor government official of Wei County had a knack for getting into trouble.

In his town lived an unscrupulous butcher. When the butcher forced a young townswoman to marry him, Lu Zhishen was infuriated. The two got into a fight and Lu Zhishen killed the butcher with three punches.

To escape prosecution, he fled to Wutai Mountain and sought refuge in a Buddhist monastery. Upon meeting him, the monastery’s abbot proclaimed: “Even a slight inclination towards goodness is worth a thousand pieces of gold. The Buddha’s law is vast, thus I name you Deep Wisdom (zhi shen).”  

Lu Zhishen soon found monastic life was not for him. He constantly broke the rules, eating meat and getting drunk repeatedly. The last straw came when he accidentally smashed a temple pavilion and some Buddha statues during a drunken rampage.

He was banished to a different monastery and placed in charge of the vegetable garden. Soon enough, though, came his first moment of glory—he single-handedly subdued 23 thieves, and then, for good measure, uprooted a tall willow tree with his bare hands. He began being hailed as a hero far and wide.

Lu Zhishen later left the monastery to join a band of heroic outlaws on Mount Liang, finally doing good—in his own kind of way.

From our Heroic Lu Zhishen Tie, inspired by this classic tale, to our Men's T-shirts inspired by the legend of General Yue Fei, explore our products inspired by the heroes and legends of history.

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