Biography (COB): Bu Zhi (Zishan)

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Bu Zhi (Zishan)Bu Zhi (Zishan)
步騭 (子山)

Comprehensive Officer Biography
Translated & Authored by

Place of Birth: Huaiyin County, Linhuai Commandery(Presently Jingliang in Jiangsu Province) (1)
Lifespan: AD 180– 248 (68 years)
Titles: Chief of Haiyan, Grand Administrator of Poyang, Inspector of Jiao Province, General of the Gentlemen of the Household Who Maintains Firmness, General of the Elite Cavalry, Chancellor of Wu
Family: Unknown

Bu Zhi was a renowned scholar of an important family in Xu Province, but he was forced to leave his home and belongings during the trouble in the province (2). Bu Zhi was a friend of other refugees such as Zhuge Jin of Langye, and Yan Jun of Pengcheng, but they arrived in the south at different times. At first, Bu Zhi stayed in Kuai Ji, under protection of the Jiao () family.

Bu Zhi was recruited around AD 200 by Sun Quan, or it is possible that he offered his services to Sun Quan along with his friends and fellow scholars Zhuge Jin and Yan Jun. At first, Sun Quan granted him the minor post of Chief of Haiyan County in Wu Commandery. However Sun Quan soon realised that Bu Zhi could be used in more important positions instead, and Bu Zhi received civil and administrative responsibilities at headquarters (3).

Sun Quan expanded east into the teritory of Huang Zu in Jiangxia Commandery, and later north into Nan Commandery. Bu Zhi left Yang Province in the fifteenth year of Rebuilt Tranquility (AD 210), to take up a new post as Grand Administrator of Poyang. However, Bu Zhi was only allowed to stay there for a few months before being transferred to the far south. Zishan was appointed as Sun Quan’s Imperial Inspector of Jiao Province, south of Jing near present–day Hanoi (4). In addition he was titled General of the Gentlemen of the Household Who Maintains Firmness, given command of a thousand archers, and he set up his own administration of Jiao Province to the east of Shi Xie’s teritory.

As new Inspector of Jiao, Bu Zhi had to deal with a certain Wu Qu, who was fighting Lai Gong. Wu Qu wanted to get help from Sun Quan in his fight, however Bu Zhi had no intention of helping a renegade. He invited Wu Qu to his headquarters for a meeting, had him arrested and then executed. Bu Zhi was not a man of action, but when it was necessary, he was able to enforce his authority and act with resolve. Bu Zhi mobilised his troops into Nanhai and Cangwu Commanderies, and not only added Wu Qu’s troops to his own, he also collected troops who served Zhang Jin before (5).

While Sun Quan was involved in several campaigns against Cao Cao, Liu Bei moved into Yi Province and replaced Liu Zhang as the ruling authority. At this time, a certain Yong Kai organized a resistance against Liu Bei’s new authority. Yong Kai contacted Shi Xie, and Shi Xie referred him to Bu Zhi instead. For years to come, Yong Kai and his men would serve as Sun Quan’s agents in Yi Province (6).

In the year AD 220, when Liu Bei invaded Jing Province, Bu Zhi went north with a large force to participate in the defense of Yiling. He defended against the non–Chinese people of Wuqi, who were used by Liu Bei in the offensive, and was succesful in his battles. After Lu Xun defeated the majority of Liu Bei’s forces, Bu Zhi lead his forces in Guiyang and Lingling Commanderies to pacify them, and set up headquarters in Oukou County in Changsha Commandery. From there, Bu Zhi took command of the southern forces and kept the counties under control (7).

In the year AD 233, Lü Dai was sent to Oukou to replace Bu Zhi, who was being transferred to Xiling, formerly Yiling. Bu Zhi was appointed General of the Elite Cavalry and took over Lu Xun’s position as forward commander on the north and west.

Much later, in AD 246, Bu Zhi was appointed as Chancellor, a rank equal to that of Deputy–Prime Minister. Bu Zhi kept that position untill his death in the year AD 248, at the age of sixty–eight.

Bu Zhi was one of the scholarly men that Sun Quan attracted, and a well–liked officer. His service as Imperial Inspector of Jiao Province was a great benefit to the Kingdom of Wu. He was able to use a minimum amount of resources to acheive a wonderful success. During his tenure, Jiao Province was peaceful and benefited from the trade with the south. Bu Zhi was certainly not a passive retainer and was just as energetic as military officers. Sun Quan had a great respect for Bu Zhi as a senior officer and respected scholar.

(1) de Crespigny notes in Generals of the South, Chapter four, that at this time, the Commandery of Xiapi was renamed to Linhuai. It was later changed back to Xiapi. Linhuai was in the area between the Huai and Yangzi rivers. <return>

(2) I assume that Bu Zhi fled Xiapi when Cao Cao led his troops against Xu province, and it’s Inspector Tao Qian. Cao Cao’s father was assasinated in Xu by one of Tao Qian’s officers, around AD 193. Cao Cao led his whole army into Xu, and indiscriminately killed its civilians. Bu Zhi probably arrived south of the Yangzi in AD 194. <return>

(3) It’s uncertain which headquarters Bu Zhi served at. It is likely that he was an administrative officer at Sun Quan’s headquarters in Wu Commandery, or the one in Kuai Ji. During the wars against Huang Zu and Cao Cao, Sun Quan transferred to different Commanderies, so it may be that Bu Zhi followed Sun Quan to these places. <return>

(4) Jiao province, at that time, was under the leadership of a certain Shi Xie and his family. Though Shi Xie had been independant so far, he acknowledged Sun Quan’s authority south of the Yangzi. At one time, Shi Xie had sought to control Nanhai Commandery in the north by appointing his brother as Shi Wu as the Grand Administrator. However, Shi Xie was notably impressed with Bu Zhi and Sun Quan and made no more moves outside of his own teritory. The biography of Shi Xie is in SGZ Chapter 49 right after Taishi Ci. <return>

(5) Zhang Jin was the former Imperial Inspector of Jiao Province, he was killed by local barbarians, and was said to be a taoist practitioner. Zhang Jin took up his post after the death of Sun Ce, and was probably the only Inspector of Jiao before Bu Zhi. <return>

(6) Around this time, Shi Xie must have realised Sun Quan’s supremacy in the lands south of the Yangzi. I doubt that the aged Shi Xie would want to risk his family’s position by over–playing his hand. Every year Shi Xie would sent a large tribute to Sun Quan, which included many exotic items obtained through trade. In AD 217, Shi Xie sent his son as a hostage to Sun Quan and was given more authority. For more on Shi Xie, see de Crespigny, Generals of the South pages 349–352. <return>

(7) Bu Zhi’s position in Jiao province was taken over by Lü Dai, an accomplished general of Wu and associate of Sun Quan. His biography is in SGZ Chapter 60, after that of He Qi and Quan Zong. <return>

Copyright © 2002 – 2003
A Kongming’s Archives Exclusive Production
Major Sources: Zhongguo Lishizhu – Professor T.Chen (1965 Peking)
annotations from Wu Jianxiang dachen nianbiao and Wu Li
Generals of the South – Rafe de Crespigny