Lady Sun, also known as Sun Ren in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Sun Shangxiang in Chinese opera and contemporary culture, was a Chinese noble lady who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty. She was a daughter of the warlord Sun Jian and his wife Lady Wu, and a younger sister of the warlords Sun Ce and Sun Quan, who founded the state of Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period. Sometime in 209, she married the warlord Liu Bei to strengthen an alliance between Liu Bei and Sun Quan. Around 211, she returned to Sun Quan's domain when Liu Bei left Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan) and settled in Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing).
Sometime in 209, Lady Sun married the warlord Liu Bei to strengthen an alliance between Liu Bei and Sun Quan. The marriage probably took place at Gong'an County because Gong'an County was the provincial capital of Jing Province and Liu Bei was nominally serving as the provincial governor at the time. Lady Sun was known to be wise and shrewd, and tough and fierce in character, very much like her brother Sun Quan. She had more than a hundred female servants who carried swords and stood guard outside her room. Whenever Liu Bei entered her room, he felt a chill in his heart. Liu Bei was also suspicious and fearful of Lady Sun. Liu Bei's adviser Zhuge Liang once said: "When our lord (Liu Bei) was in Gong'an, he dreaded Cao Cao's influence in the north and feared Sun Quan's presence in the east. Even in home territory he was afraid that Lady Sun would cause trouble."
As she saw herself as the sister of a powerful warlord, Lady Sun not only acted in an arrogant and unbridled manner, but also allowed her bodyguards and personal staff to behave lawlessly in Jing Province. For this reason, Liu Bei specially appointed his general Zhao Yun, whom he deemed a serious and conscientious person, to oversee domestic affairs in Jing Province and maintain law and order. Around 211, Liu Bei left Jing Province on a campaign to attack the warlord Liu Zhang in Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) while Lady Sun remained behind in Jing Province. When Sun Quan heard that Liu Bei had travelled to Yi Province, he sent a ship to fetch his sister back. Lady Sun attempted to bring Liu Bei's son Liu Shan, who was born to Liu Bei's other wife Lady Gan, with her back to Sun Quan's territory. However, Zhao Yun and Zhang Fei, another of Liu Bei's generals, led their men to intercept her along the way and retrieve Liu Shan. Nothing was recorded in history about what happened to Lady Sun after she returned home.
Other names of Lady Sun include:
- Sun Ren (孙仁; 孫仁; Sūn Rén; Sun Jen), in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
- Sun Shangxiang (孙尚香; 孫尚香; Sūn Shàngxiāng; Sun Shang-hsiang), in drama and popular culture.
- Xiao Ji (枭姬; 梟姬; Xiāo Jī; Hsiao Chi; 'fierce lady'), nickname in popular culture.
- Gongyao Ji (弓腰姬; Gōngyāo Jī; Kung-yao Chi; 'lady with a waist like a bow'), nickname in the Japanese translation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Eiji Yoshikawa.
In Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Lady Sun appears as a character in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which romanticises the historical events before and during the Three Kingdoms period. Her name was Sun Ren (孫仁) in the novel, in which she is depicted as a very fiery and determined woman.
See the following for some fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms involving Lady Sun:
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Liu Bei and Lady Sun's marriage
- Battle of Xiaoting#Lady Sun's death
In popular culture
Lady Sun is one of the first female playable characters to make a debut in Koei's Dynasty Warriors video game series. She also appears in Warriors Orochi, a crossover between Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors. She is referred to as "Sun Shang Xiang" in the first seven instalments in the series, and as "Sun Shangxiang" from the eighth instalment onwards.
In Koei's Kessen 2 she is named "Sun Li" and is one of Liu Bei's many love interests.
Chinese actress Zhao Wei portrayed Sun Shangxiang in the 2008 Chinese epic war film Red Cliff directed by John Woo. In the first part, she and her all-female bodyguards lured Cao Cao's troops into an ambush. In the second part, she infiltrates Cao Cao's camp and draws a map of the enemy formation.
Lady Sun is referenced in the game and anime series Koihime Musō in which she is named "Sonshōkō" (or "Shaoren"). She charges out of the kingdom to fight against the Hongo Faction who are falsely accused of betraying the Go faction. After being captured by Hongo Faction and clearing up the misunderstanding, she likes Kazuto and enjoys playing around with him.
Lady Sun was portrayed by Pets Tseng in the 2009 Taiwanese idol drama series K.O.3an Guo, which spoofs Romance of the Three Kingdoms in a present-day high school setting. In the drama, Sun is the love interest of Xiu, who is the Iron Dimension counterpart of Liu Bei.
In the game Total War: Three Kingdoms she is named Sun Ren. Initially appearing as a child in the family tree of Sun Jian's campaign, Sun Ren becomes a playable character when she comes of age later in the game.