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Sun Qian

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Sun Qian

Sun Qian
Official of Liu Bei
Born (Unknown)
Died c. 214[1]
Traditional Chinese 孫乾
Simplified Chinese 孙乾
Pinyin Sūn Qián
Wade–Giles Sun Chi'en
Courtesy name Gongyou (Chinese: 公祐; pinyin: Gōngyòu; Wade–Giles: Kung-yu)

Sun Qian (died c. 214),[1] courtesy name Gongyou, was an official serving under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty.


Sun Qian was from Beihai Commandery (北海郡), whose capital was around present-day Shouguang, Weifang, Shandong. He was recommended by Zheng Xuan[2] to serve under Liu Bei as an Assistant Officer (從事) when Liu Bei succeeded Tao Qian as the Governor (牧) of Xu Province in 194. He remained as a subordinate of Liu Bei since then.[3]

In 198, when Liu Bei was planning to break free of Cao Cao's control by leaving the capital Xu (許; present-day Xuchang, Henan), he sent Sun Qian and Mi Zhu to secretly contact Cao's rivals Yuan Shao and Liu Biao and form alliances with them. After Yuan Shao's death in 202, Liu Biao once wrote to Yuan Shao's third son and successor, Yuan Shang, and mentioned the rivalry between Yuan Shang and his eldest brother Yuan Tan. Liu Biao wrote: "Whenever I discussed this issue (the rivalry between you and your brother) with General Liu (Liu Bei) and Sun Gongyou, I feel very upset and heartbroken." Sun Qian was held in high regard by Liu Bei and Liu Biao.[4]

In the 210s, after Liu Bei had successfully seized control of Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) from its governor Liu Zhang and established his new base in Chengdu (Yi Province's capital), he promoted Sun Qian to the position of "General Who Upholds Loyalty" (秉忠將軍). Liu Bei's treatment towards Sun Qian was second to that of Mi Zhu, but equal to that of Jian Yong and others. Sun Qian died not long later.[5] Sun Qian's year of death was not specified, but the Australian sinologist Rafe de Crespigny estimated that he died around 214.[1]


Chen Shou, who wrote Sun Qian's biography, commented as follows: "Mi Zhu, Sun Qian, Jian Yong and Yi Ji were refined and cultured persons whose ideas were widely circulated. They were well known for their good observation of the proprieties."[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c  
  2. ^ (鄭玄傳云:玄薦乾於州。乾被辟命,玄所舉也。) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 38.
  3. ^ (孫乾字公祐,北海人也。先主領徐州,辟為從事,後隨從周旋。) Sanguozhi vol. 38.
  4. ^ (先主之背曹公,遣乾自結袁紹,將適荊州,乾又與麋笁俱使劉表,皆如意指。後表與袁尚書,說其兄弟分爭之變,曰:「每與劉左將軍、孫公祐共論此事,未甞不痛心入骨,相為悲傷也。」其見重如此。) Sanguozhi vol. 38.
  5. ^ (先主定益州,乾自從事中郎為秉忠將軍,見禮次麋笁,與簡雍同等。頃之,卒。) Sanguozhi vol. 38.
  6. ^ (麋笁、孫乾、簡雍、伊籍,皆雍容風議,見禮於世。) Sanguozhi vol. 38.

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