Wen Tianxiang Biography

In this Chinese name, the family name is 文 (Wen). Statue of Man Tin Cheung in San Tin, Hong Kong

Wen Tianxiang (Chinese: 文天祥; pinyin: Wén Tiānxiáng; June 6, 1236 – January 9, 1283), Duke of Xinguo (信國公), was a Chinese poet and politician in the last years of the Southern Song dynasty. For his resistance to Kublai Khan's invasion of the Song dynasty, and for his refusal to yield to the Yuan dynasty despite being captured and tortured, he is a popular symbol of patriotism and righteousness in China. He is known as one of the 'Three Loyal Princes of the Song' (大宋三忠王), alongside Lu Xiufu and Zhang Shijie. Wen Tianxiang is depicted in the Wu Shuang Pu (無雙譜, Table of Peerless Heroes) by Jin Guliang.

His continuing symbolic importance was evident in an event that took place in Wen Tianxiang's historical shrine in Haifeng (Haifeng County) in 1908, where Chen Jiongming persuaded over thirty young men from the village to swear secret support for a national revolution.


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Ancestry and descendants
  • 3 Monuments
    • 3.1 Jiangxi
    • 3.2 Beijing
    • 3.3 Guangdong
    • 3.4 Taiwan
    • 3.5 Hong Kong
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 Further reading
  • 7 External links


Wen was born on 6 June 1236 in Luling (Ji'an), Jiangxi Province during the Song dynasty. At the age of 18, he excelled in his local examinations, and two years later participated in examinations in the capital, during which he was personally awarded first rank by Emperor Lizong. He would subsequently take up several posts in the government of the Southern Song, including being Attendant (郎官) of the Justice Ministry and Prefect of Ganzhou.

In 1278, Wen was captured by the invading Yuan armies of Kublai Khan. He was offered a Yuan post and ordered to convince the remaining Song forces to surrender. Wen refused and suffered for four years in a military prison before his execution in 1283. The idea of working for a government that his people traditionally viewed as "barbaric" was incompatible with his traditional Song values. During this time he wrote the famous cl*ics "Song of Righteousness" (正氣歌), and "P*ing Lingdingyang". One phrase from "P*ing Lingdingyang" has since entered the Chinese lexicon:

All men are mortal, but my loyalty will illuminate the annals of history forever.

Ancestry and descendants

Wen Tianxiang adopted the three sons of his younger brother when his two sons died young.

There are now at least six branches of the Wen family in the provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan, Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian, and in Hong Kong and overseas locations. Local dialect pronunciations would be Man (Cantonese), Vun (Hakka), Boon (Hokkien) and Bhung (Teochew). The Man clan are considered one of the original founding families in the history of Hong Kong.

The well-known Ming dynasty painter and calligrapher Wen Zhengming also belonged to the Wen family. The mother of Mao Zedong, Wen Qimei, was a descendant as well.

One of the oldest continuous branches of the Wen family established itself in the Hengyang/Hengshan area of present-day Hunan shortly after 1000. A branch of this Wen family settled in the United States in the mid-1940s and is related through marriage to the prominent Sun family of Shouxian, Anhui (Sun Jianai; Fou Foong Flour Company 福豐麵粉廠) and the Li family of Hefei, Anhui (Li Hongzhang).


Man Tin Cheung Memorial Park in San Tin, Hong Kong


Wen Tianxiang's hometown in Ji'an, Jiangxi honors the famous national hero with a mausoleum. Exhibitions of paintings, calligraphy, and even army uniforms supposedly left by Wen are displayed in the Wen Family Ancestral Temple in Futian. The Wen Tianxiang Mausoleum is located in Wohushan.


The Memorial to Prime Minister Wen Tianxiang was built in 1376 during the reign of the Hongwu Emperor of the Ming dynasty. The location of Wen's execution is thought to be near the entrance to *ue Alley in the East City District of Beijing and a memorial has been established on the northern side of the entrance to South *ue Alley near Beixinqiao.

"The Song Dynasty's Top Ranking Scholar and Prime Minister, the West River's Filial Son and Loyal Subject," is carved into the columns of the memorial's main hall.


The "Golden Marshal's Cemetery" commemorating the heroes of the anti-Yuan nationality at the end of the Song Dynasty was established in the Gurao Township, Chaoyang District, Shantou City, Guangdong Province. There are many legends about Wen Tianxiang in the area of Gurao Town, Chaoyang District. According to legend, in the last years of the Southern Song dynasty, Wen Tian Xiang raised an army in Chaoyang to resist the invading Mongol forces and was captured in Haifeng County during the campaign. Due to the great disparity in strength between the two sides, most of the Song soldiers were killed. Based on investigation, there are nine Song tombs in Gu Rao and neighboring towns. In later years, festive activities were held to commemorate Marshal General Wen Tian Xiang and his descendant, These develop into what is known as the Gurao Festival. During this festival, the villages are covered with red and green, and the villagers walk through the streets to perform folk art tours. Overseas travellers have also returned to their hometowns.


In the late 1950s and 1960s, a place called Tapido:, within the present Taroko National Park, was renamed "Tianxiang" in memory of Wen Tianxiang during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway. Tianxiang is now a famous resort in the east of Taiwan.

In addition, three streets also take their name from Wen (i.e. the "Tianxiang Road"). One is in Zhongshan District, Taipei nearby the Minquan W. Road MRT Station, another is in Sanmin District, Kaohsiung and the other is in Xiulin, Hualien County.

Hong Kong

The San Tin area in the New Territories of Hong Kong is home to many villagers surnamed "Man" in Cantonese. The "Man" villagers trace their ancestry to Man Tin Cheung via Man Tin-Sui, also a famous Song dynasty general and the cousin of Man Tin Cheung.

A Man Tin Cheung Memorial Park and "Man" ancestral hall and residence (Tai Fu Tai Mansion) in San Tin are historical attractions in Hong Kong.

See also

  • History of the Song dynasty
  • List of Chinese people
  • Grand chancellor (China)
  • Yue Fei
  • Lu Xiufu
  • Zhang Shijie
  • Wang Anshi
  • Sima Guang
  • Fan Zhongyan


    Further reading

    • Writing Poetry as Diary: Wen Tianxiang's Poem Series Yuan-fang Tung, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
    • "Writ in Blood": Wen Tianxiang's Lyric Songs Yang Ye, University of California, Riverside
    • Intellectual and Aesthetic Contexts for Wen Tianxiang's Poetry Michael A. Fuller, University of California, Irvine
    • Brown, William Andreas (1986). WEN T'IEN-HSIANG: A Biographical Study of a Sung Patriot. Chinese Materials Center Publications. ISBN:0-89644-643-3.
    • Burgess, David James (1985). WEN TIANXIANG: A Preliminary Study of his Life and Poetry (M.A. Thesis). George Washington University.
    • Wan, Shengnan 萬繩楠 (1996). Wen Tianxiang 文天祥 (in Chinese). Zhonghe, Taiwan: Zhi Shu Fang 知書房出版社. ISBN:957-8622-309.
    • Yang, Deen 楊德恩 (1939). Chronological Biography of Wen Tianxiang 文天祥年譜 (in Chinese). The Commercial Press.

    External links

    • Man Tin Cheung Park in Hong Kong
    Portals:ChinaChina/CategoriesLiteratureBookspoetryWen Tianxiang at Wikipedia's sister projects:Media from CommonsTexts from WikisourceData from Wikidata
    Wen Tianxiang