Biography (SGYY): Zu Mao (Darong)

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Zu Mao (Darong)
祖茂 (大榮)
(AD ?—190)

Sanguo yanyi Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by Sam Wrest

Zu Mao (Darong)

Zu Mao, styled Darong, hailed from Fuchun in Wujun. Mao always wielded a pair of swords-of-war before entering battle and was one of Sun Jian’s first four commanders (1).

1: Sun Jian’s other three commanders were Cheng Pu, Huang Gai and Han Dang.

When Cao Cao (then serving as commandant of the Valiant Cavaliers) issued a call to arms against prime minister of the Han Dong Zhuo, Sun Jian was one of seventeen lords who accepted the call. Upon arriving at the collation’s base, Sun Jian was given command of the vanguard and, with Zu Mao, set out for Si River Pass immediately. Jian was met at Si River by a force of fifty thousand soldiers commanded by Dong Zhuo’s general Hua Xiong. Xiong sent his lieutenant commander Hu Zhen out of the pass with five thousand men, but Zhen was soon speared through by Cheng Pu. Sun Jian’s army then charged the pass but were forced to retreat when Si River’s defenders pelted them with stones. The army retreated to Liangdong, where Sun Jian sent one letter to the coalition’s leader, Yuan Shao, to report the victory and another to Shao’s brother, Shu, to request grain.

After some time, no grain shipment was forthcoming from Yuan Shu and Sun Jian’s men were beginning to become uncontrollable (2). Soon after, Dong Zhuo’s commanders Hua Xiong and Li Su attacked the Liangdong encampment and Sun Jian, unable to defend the camp from two fronts, was forced to flee. Li Su set the camp ablaze and Jian’s men, seeing the fires spread, fled immediately. Zu Mao alone stuck by Sun Jian and the two dashed from the battleground with Hua Xiong in close pursuit. “Your red hood’s a perfect target,” Zu Mao said. “I’ll wear it.”

2: Concerning Sun Jian’s request for grain: someone advised Yuan Shu: “Sun Jian is the tiger of the east. If he takes the capital and kills Dong Zhuo, we’ll be facing a tiger instead of a wolf. Deny the grain and watch his army fall apart.” Yuan Shu, persuaded, sent no supplies to Sun Jian.

So saying, Mao switched headgear with Jian and the two took flight by different roads. Xiong’s soldiers spotted the brightly coloured hood in the distance and gave chase after its wearer, enabling Sun Jian to safely escape. Zu Mao, now hard pressed, hung the hood on a half-burned piece of timber and hid in a nearby copse. Hua Xiong’s men dared not advance, but after one fired an arrow at the hood, the ruse was discovered and Hua Xiong went for the headdress. As he did, Zu Mao came slashing out of the woods, heading straight for Hua Xiong. Wielding both his swords, Mao attempted to cut Xiong down but his opponent, uttering fierce cries, delivered a single sword stroke that dropped Zu Mao from his horse, killing him. After learning of Mao’s death, Sun Jian grieved bitterly.

Copyright © 2005 Sam Wrest
Based on the novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, attributed to Luo Guanzhong