Great Teacher (大賢良師)
General of Heaven (天公將軍)
A Qing dynasty illustration of Zhang Jue
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Zhang Jue (/ /; died 184) was the leader of the Yellow Turban Rebellion during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He was said to be a follower of Taoism and a sorcerer. His name is sometimes read as Zhang Jiao (/ /), since the Chinese character of Zhang's given name can be read as either "Jiao" or "Jue". "Jue" is the traditional reading, while "Jiao" is the modern one.
Giving himself the title of "Great Teacher" (大賢良師), Zhang Jue led the Yellow Turban Rebellion with his younger brothers Zhang Bao (張寶) and Zhang Liang (張梁) in a campaign called the "Way of Heaven" or "Way of Peace". He and his brothers gave themselves titles: Zhang Bao was the "General of Land" (地公將軍), Zhang Liang was the "General of the People" (人公將軍); and Zhang Jue was the "General of Heaven" (天公將軍). The Yellow Turbans claimed to be Taoists, and rebelled against the Han dynasty in response to burdensome taxes, rampant corruption, and famine and flooding, which were seen as indications that the Han emperor had lost the mandate of heaven.
The Yellow Turbans conquered much in the early years of the rebellion, but later could not hold out against Han imperial forces led by He Jin, Lu Zhi, Dong Zhuo, Huangfu Song, Zhu Jun and others. Although the Yellow Turbans still remained capable even in face of their more powerful foe, they were nonetheless torn apart upon the death of their leader, Zhang Jue, and were eventually defeated and dispersed. Zhang Bao was defeated and killed by imperial forces led by Huangfu Song and Guo Dian (郭典) at Xiaquyang County (下曲陽縣; west of present-day Jinzhou, Hebei), while Zhang Liang also met his end at the hands of imperial forces led by Huangfu Song at Guangzong County (廣宗縣; southeast of present-day Guangzong County, Hebei).
Large groups of Yellow Turbans roamed through China for years after the rebellion's defeat, most of them eventually joining the army of the warlord Cao Cao, whose agrarian reform policies closely matched Zhang Jue's own programme.
Zhang Jue is also featured in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He is introduced in Chapter 1 as follows:
At that time, there lived three brothers in Julu Commandery: Zhang Jue, Zhang Bao and Zhang Liang. Zhang Jue was a failure in the county level examination. He had gone into the mountains to gather some medicinal herbs, when he came across an old man; the old man had a youthful countenance, and was carrying a fat-hen walking stick. The old man beckoned Jue into a cave, presented him with a book in three volumes which had come from the heavens, then said, "This book is called The Essential Art of Great Peace. Once you have mastered its contents, you will represent the heavens in spreading this knowledge, and thereby save all of mankind. If you start to have second thoughts, there will be terrible consequences for you." Jue enquired as to the old man's name. The old man said, "I am the old immortal spirit from the southern lands." With that, the old man vanished into thin air. Upon receiving this book, Jue practiced night and day. Eventually, he could summon the wind and rain, and came to be known as the Great Peace Taoist. (Wikisource translation)
Zhang Jue then goes on to start the Yellow Turban Rebellion with his brothers. Little time is devoted to Zhang Jue in the book, and his death is given a line in the second chapter: "Zhang Jue had died before his (Huangfu Song's) arrival." In the novel, Zhang Bao does not die in battle against imperial forces, but meets his end at the hands of a subordinate, Yan Zheng (嚴政), who cuts off his head and surrenders to imperial forces.
Zhang Jue appears as a playable character in Koei's Dynasty Warriors and Warriors Orochi video games series, as well as serving as an antagonist in Capcom's Destiny of an Emperor for the Nintendo Entertainment System. He is referred to as "Zhang Jiao" in these games. He is also seen as one of the antagonists of the light gun shooting game SEGA Golden Gun.