Ma Yuan (Han Dynasty)


Ma Yuan (Han Dynasty)

:"For other uses, see Ma Yuan".Ma Yuan (Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Mǎ Yuán; Vietnamese: Mã Viện) (14 BC – 49) was a Chinese general who served during the Eastern Han Dynasty. Ma Chao of the Three Kingdoms period was his descendant.

Life and career

His military and political achievements included helping Emperor Guangwu unite the empire and expeditions against the Vietnamese (putting down a rebellion led by Trưng Trắc (Traditional Chinese: 徵側; Zheng Ce) and her sister Trưng Nhị (Traditional Chinese: 徵貳; Zheng Er)) and the Wulin tribes (modern eastern Guizhou and northwestern Hunan). He fell ill during an expedition to modern Hunan in 49, and soon died afterwards. Prior to that, Ma Yuan contributed to Emperor Guangwu's defeat of the warlord Wei Xiao (隗囂), who controlled the modern eastern Gansu region.

He is considered one of the more famous generals in Chinese history, not only because of his military achievements, but also because he demonstrated perseverance and respect to his friends and subordinates. In addition to his military skills, his exhortations on personal disciple were also highly regarded. His daughter became empress to Emperor Ming and was also highly respected.

One of his greatest achievements was the subjugation of the territory of the Nanman regions. It was for this he earned his title "Queller of the Deep." He was reportedly revered in that area (as was often the case of great warriors of that period), and his temple was established somewhere there. The territory he subjugated corresponds roughly with North Vietnam, and an idea of the difficulty fighting in that sphere poses can be gained from the difficulties both the Americans and French faced campaigning there in the 20th Century.

He also subjugated the Qiang. In 34 A.D., the Xianlian Qiang and a number of other tribes, raided Chinese positions in Jincheng and Longxi commanderies and were defeated by Han armies. A few months later, Lai Xi was killed on campaign against Gongsun Shu, but his assistant, Ma Yuan, Grand Administrator of Lonxi commandery, continued operations against the Qiang. In 35, the Xianlian tribe were again defeated, first at Lintao in Longxi and then along the Xining river in Jincheng commandery. In the two separate campaigns, Ma Yuan captured more than ten thousand head of horses, cattle and sheep, together with considerable stores of grain. He was wounded in the leg during one of the final engagements, and he did not completely destroy the enemy, but he did drive them away from the valley lands of Jincheng, and he was rewarded with Imperial commendation and several thousand of the animals he had captured.

Though members of the Qiang had escaped across the borders, Ma Yuan's victories in 35 had broken the power of the Xianlian tribe and had made possible a restoration of Chinese positions on the old frontiers.

In 49, Ma, while on expedition against the Wulin tribes (in modern eastern Guizhou and northwestern Hunan), died during the campaign from a plague, which also killed a large number of his soldiers. After his death, Ma's deputy Geng Shu (耿舒), who had disagreed with Ma's strategy, and Emperor Guangwu's son-in-law Liang Song (梁松), who had prior grudges against Ma, falsely accused Ma of many crimes, most of which are unknown to us. Two specific accusations that are known are that Ma, by the route he took against the Wulin tribes, was responsible for the plague, and that he had, while on campaigns, embezzled pearls and rhinoceros horns. The latter accusation was a misunderstanding in that one of Ma's favorite foods (which he considered capable of warding off plague) was Job's Tears (Chinese pearl barley), produced in southern China and northern Vietnam, which Ma had transported in large quantities back to the capital Luoyang. Emperor Guangwu believed these false accusations and posthumously stripped Ma of his fief and title of marquess.

Ma Yuan was the source of two Chinese idioms. One, "wrapping one's body with horse leather" (馬革裹屍), refers to being dedicated to one's responsibilities that one is willing to die on the battlefield and have his body be wrapped in horse leather; Ma had given this phrase while talking to a friend as to why he wished to continue in military service. The other, "drawing a tiger improperly results in a dog" (畫虎不成反類犬), refers to his admonition to his nephews to be careful in their conduct and not to try to imitate a famed heroic figure of the time, Du Bao (杜保) -- in that if one tried to imitate Du but was not as heroic as he was, one would end up becoming a frivolous hoodlum.

Legends

It is said that during Zhuge Liang's attempts to suppress Meng Huo and the barbarians, he was inspired by a statue of Ma Yuan which helped him to overcome one of Meng Huo's most difficult obstacles.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cui Yuan (Han Dynasty) — For other uses, see Cui Yuan (disambiguation) Cui Yuan (Chinese: 崔瑗; pinyin: Cuī Yuán; 77–142 or 78–143 AD),[1] style name Ziyu, was a minor military officer, mathematician, scholar, noted calligrapher, poet, and temporary fugitive of the Han… …   Wikipedia

  • Han Dynasty — 漢朝 ← 206 BCE–220 CE …   Wikipedia

  • Cui Yuan (Tang Dynasty) — For other uses, see Cui Yuan (disambiguation) in particular, for the chancellor later in the dynasty, see Cui Yuan (Late Tang). Cui Yuan (崔圓) (705–768), courtesy name Youyu (有裕), formally Duke Zhaoxiang of Zhao (趙昭襄公), was an official of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Chen Lan (Han Dynasty) — Chen Lan Traditional Chinese 陳蘭 Simplified Chinese 陈兰 Transcriptions …   Wikipedia

  • Chen Lin (Han Dynasty) — For other people named Chen Lin, see Chen Lin. This is a Chinese name; the family name is Chen. Chen Lin Traditional Chinese 陳琳 Simplified Chinese 陈琳 …   Wikipedia

  • Chen Zhen (Han Dynasty) — For other people named Chen Zhen, see Chen Zhen. Chen Zhen Traditional Chinese 陳震 Simplified Chinese 陈震 …   Wikipedia

  • Chen Ji (Han Dynasty) — For other people named Chen Ji, see Chen Ji (disambiguation). Chen Ji Traditional Chinese 陳紀 Simplified Chinese 陈玘 …   Wikipedia

  • Cheng Yi (Han Dynasty) — Cheng Yi Traditional Chinese 成宜 Simplified Chinese 成宜 Transcriptions …   Wikipedia

  • End of the Han Dynasty — The End of the Han Dynasty (漢朝末年 or 東漢末年, the End of the Eastern Han Dynasty) refers to a period roughly coinciding with the reign of Han Dynasty s final emperor Emperor Xian (r. 189 220) when the empire, with its institutions destroyed by the… …   Wikipedia

  • Society and culture of the Han Dynasty — A Western Han jade carved door knocker with designs of Chinese dragons (and two other jade figurines) The Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) was a period of ancient China divided by the Western Han (206 BCE – 9 CE) and Eastern Han (25–220 CE) periods …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.