|Palace Attendant (侍中)|
221 – 222
|Died||222 (aged 35)|
Yidu County or Changyang County, Hubei
|Courtesy name||Jichang (季常)|
Ma Liang (187–222), courtesy name Jichang, was an official serving under the warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He served in the state of Shu Han as one of the founding emperor Liu Bei’s “ten attendants” during the early Three Kingdoms period.
Ma Liang was from Yicheng County (宜城縣), Xiangyang, which is present-day Yicheng, Hubei. He was the eldest of five brothers – Ma Su was one of them – and was famous for his talent. He had white strands of hair in his eyebrows. There was a saying in Ma Liang's hometown to describe him and his brothers: "Of the five changs in the Ma family, White Brows is the most liang."[b]
Around 209, when the warlord Liu Bei took charge of Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan) after the death of its Inspector (刺史), Liu Qi, he recruited Ma Liang to serve as an Assistant Officer (從事) under him. Later in 211, when Liu Bei left Jing Province for an expedition in Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing), Ma Liang remained behind in Jing Province. Ma Liang was a close friend of Liu Bei's strategist Zhuge Liang and they were sworn brothers. He once wrote a letter to Zhuge Liang, who was in Yi Province at the time, to praise and encourage him. Ma Liang was later promoted to the position of a Senior Clerk (掾) in the office of the General of the Left (左將軍).[c]
In 221, after the collapse of the Eastern Han dynasty, Liu Bei declared himself emperor and established the state of Shu Han. Ma Liang was appointed as a Palace Attendant (侍中) in Shu. Later that year, Liu Bei launched a campaign against Sun Quan,[d] leading to the Battle of Xiaoting. Ma Liang was tasked with persuading the tribal peoples in Wuling (武陵; around present-day Wuling District, Changde, Hunan) to join Liu Bei and he succeeded in his mission. Liu Bei was eventually defeated by Sun Quan's general Lu Xun at the Battle of Xiaoting in 222 and Ma Liang was killed in action. Later, after he managed to retreat to Baidicheng (in present-day Fengjie County, Chongqing) safely, Liu Bei appointed Ma Liang's son, Ma Bing (馬秉), as a Cavalry Commandant (騎都尉).
Chen Shou, who wrote Ma Liang's biography in the Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi), appraised Ma as follows: "Ma Liang was loyal and honest. He was worthy to be called a lingshi (令士; a virtuous scholarly gentleman) ... he was one of the best officials in Shu."