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Lady Mu Guiying: A Woman of Courage and Steadfastness

There is a fascinating story about a young Chinese woman named Mu Guiying. She was a beautiful chieftain, hailing from the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). From an early age, Guiying showed great potential in martial arts. Later on, she also became well-versed in the sacred texts. Mu Guiying is recognized mainly for her unwavering and steadfast courage.

A predestined encounter

Mu Guiying lived with her father, Mu Yu, as a child. They stayed in the greenwood near Muke Village in what is today’s Shandong Province. Mu Yu was her father’s name and he was the chief of Muke Fortress,  which was a leading military center.

The story plays out when the Song army became embroiled in a bitter fight against invading armies of the Great Liao, a nomad state from China’s north.

The Liao army had just recruited a certain Song army advisor named Lu Zhong, who knew a special battle formation that was so tight it was believed to be impenetrable just like a dragon’s scales. Liao challenged the Song army to defeat them and gave them an ultimatum of a hundred days. Otherwise, they would have to surrender their newly unified motherland to the Liao.

Mu Guiying was a beautiful chieftain, hailing from the Northern Song Dynasty. (Image: SY via Wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0)

On the Song side, there was an illustrious family with the name of Yang. The men were all generals of several armies. They were known to be so formidable that the mere mention of the Yang name caused enemies to quake in their boots and run for their lives.

Responding to the 100-day challenge from Liao, the Yangs along with the Song armies fought hard, but their armies failed to break through the enemy’s tight formation. As the deadline drew near, a Yang army advisor recommended Chief Mu Yu (Mu Guiyang’s father) from the Muke fortress to the Commander. Mu Yu already knew Lu Zhong, and he was also the only person who knew the formula that could crack the invincible battle array.

An unusual proposal

A young warrior from the Yang family named Yang Zongbao arrived at the Muke Fortress one day, demanding to learn the special military strategy. Mu Yu was immediately suspicious and refused to teach him. A fiery duel followed and Mu Yu captured Yang Zongbao.  But the warrior bravely announced to Mu Yu that he would rather die than admit defeat.

Upon seeing his demeanor and courage, Mu Guiying fell completely in love with him. But at first, Yang Zongbao could only regard her as the daughter of the man who defeated him. However, it didn’t deter Mu Guiying. She took a daring move and quickly proposed to him. Seeing her fearless character, Yang Zongbao fell for her and humbly accepted her offer of marriage.

Yang Zongbao arrived at Muke fortress one day, demanding to learn the special military strategy. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

His father, Yang Yanzhao, however, was furious, and in his rage, ordered his son’s immediate execution. Mu Guiying was shocked by the turn of events, she went to her father-in-law and invited him to a duel. Guiyang defeated him. Then Yangzhou apologized for his rash actions and recognizing her capabilities, he blessed their union and welcomed Mu Guiying into the Yang family and his cavalry.

A genius female military strategist

The Yang army, meanwhile, suffered a horrible defeat at the hands of the Liao. Yang Zongbao was then appointed the Army Commander. Sadly, Mu Yu passed away at this time. Mu Guiying was the only person left who was trained in the military stratagem that could save the Song lands.

Mu Guiying was only 19 when she took command of the Yang army. In an act of military genius, she broke through the invincible formation of the Liao cavalry. In a brilliant counter move, Mu Guiying destroyed the Liao formations one by one. With the dignity and composure of a veteran general, Mu Guiying steadfastly led her army with courage and determination. It’s said the Liao army suffered such a blow under her that it never regained its former glory.

Rolling Tears Cliff

Mu Guiying and her troops were killed in a pass known as “Rolling Tears Cliff.” Mu Guiying’s grandmother-in-law was so heartbroken that the mountain rocks rolled down the side of the cliffs like tears. 

The legendary Mu Guiying is a timeless heroine and up until today, her charm and accomplishments continue to capture the admiration of the old and young alike.

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  • Simone Jonker worked in NTD Inspired for two years. She wrote light articles and inspiring stories.

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