Known to be brave and strong. Served Huang Zu, then Wu. Died of illness.
Wade-Giles: Kan Ning (Hsing-pa)
Simplified Chinese: 甘宁 (兴霸)
Pronunciation: Gan1 Ning2 (Xing1ba4)
Cantonese (Yale): Gam Ning (Hing-ba)
Cantonese (Jyutpin): Gam Ning (Hing-baa)
Min-Nan: Kam Leng (Hin-pa)
Birthplace: Lin Jiang, Ba Prefecture
(Presently Zhong County in Sichuan Province)
Rank and Titles
Chief of the Zhu Prefecture; Grand Administrator of Xiling; Rank-breaking General
Family and Relationships
Gan Huai, Gan Shu (Son)
Fact vs. Fiction
Differences Between Fact and Common Fiction
- Gan Ning did not kill Yue Jin in battle.
- Gan Ning was not killed by Shamoke. Died of illness.
- Gan Ning is not mentioned in historic documentation as having died of dysentery.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms:
Sanguozhi: Wu 10
Gan Ning hailed from Nanyang commandery in Jing and became a famous commander of Wu during the Three Kingdoms era. Initially, Gan Ning was a bandit and outlaw. Eventually, Gan Ning entered the service of Liu Yan, a warlord established in the Riverlands (the Han province of ‘Yizhou’). Following Liu Yan’s death, Gan Ning revolted against Yan’s successor Liu Zhang. When the rebellion failed, Gan Ning went back to Jing province and sought employment with Liu Biao, another lord. Gan Ning came to serve Huang Zu.
Huang Zu forced Gan Ning to stay in his service, but Huang Zu treated Gan Ning like a common soldier. In one instance, Gan Ning shot and killed Ling Cao, a general of Sun Quan’s. Even after this incident, Gan Ning was still treated poorly. At the urgings of Su Fei, an advisor of Huang Zu’s, Gan Ning was finally promoted to Chief of Zhu. Luckily for Gan Ning, Zhu happened to be located close to Sun Quan’s territories, and so Gan Ning was able to escape. Zhou Yu and Lü Meng, two generals under Sun Quan, entreated Sun Quan to allow Gan Ning into service. In AD 208, Xiakou was at last subjugated, and Huang Zu was finally slain. Sun Quan had made two boxes prior to this victory: One for the head of Huang Zu, and one for the head of his strategist, Su Fei. Gan Ning pleaded with Sun Quan to allow Su Fei, who had always been generous to Gan Ning in the past, amnesty. Because of this, Su Fei was let off scot-free. Gan Ning then obtained military command, but was moved to a distant commandery.
After the battle of Chi Bi, Gan Ning was ordered to besiege and capture the city of Yiling. Although Gan Ning easily took the city, he was immediately surrounded and hard-pressed by the troops of Cao Ren. Despite the fact that his army was outnumbered and bombarded by siege towers, Gan Ning held Yiling long enough for Zhou Yu to repulse Cao Ren’s forces. Some tales allege that Guan Yu contemplated an attack on Wu’s holdings in Jing, but was so scared of Gan Ning that he aborted his plans.
Gan Ning would later distinguish himself during Sun Quan’s attack on Huan by scaling the walls of Huan city with a silken rope. At the Battle of Ruxu some time later, Gan Ning raided the camp of Cao Ren. Finally, during one engagement at Hefei, Gan Ning would defend Sun Quan’s carriage. If not for the valiant efforts of Gan Ning, Ling Tong and Lü Meng, Sun Quan’s life would have been jeopardized in that battle.
Sun Quan praised Gan Ning for his ability. On one occasion, Sun Quan said, “Cao Cao may have Zhang Liao, but I have Gan Ning! Thus we are evenly matched.”