Sun Jian "Collecting Arrows" in Chapter 7 of SGYY

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Sun Jian "Collecting Arrows" in Chapter 7 of SGYY

Unread postby Tianshan Zi » Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:44 pm

I am reading the SGYY for the fourth time, and for some reason it has taken this many readings for me to notice in any detail the episode of Sun Jian collecting arrows from Huang Zu for three days, depleting the supply of the enemy and boosting his own supply by more than one hundred thousand arrows. This episode essentially is a parallel of Zhuge Liang collecting arrows during the Red Cliff campaign; the main difference between the two incidents is that Zhuge Liang's accomplishment is presented in a more dramatic context and told over the course of a few pages rather than over the course of a few sentences.

Anyway, I do not recall a discussion of Sun Jian collecting arrows on this forum, so I thought I'd throw it out there for discussion. Is this yet another case of the Shu-Han characters being showered with most of the glory in the SGYY? :)
Last edited by Tianshan Zi on Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sun Jian "Collecting Arrows" in Chapter 7 of SGYY

Unread postby Long » Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:47 pm

It could be viewed as the bias for Shu rearing it's ugly head again, but also the fact that it was a plot on par with what Zhuge Liang did could serve to boast of Sun Jian's intellect as well. Historically Sun Jian was a keen man in his own right.
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Re: Sun Jian "Collecting Arrows" in Chapter 7 of SGYY

Unread postby Tianshan Zi » Sat Nov 29, 2008 8:17 pm

Perhaps. I am wondering if "collecting arrows" is a stock literary device used elsewhere in Chinese literature; can anyone think of any other examples of "collecting arrows" from other sources?

On a side note, just think of how many examples of a servant or soldier trading headgear with his or her lord or mistress in order to manage the latter's escape (for example, Zu Mao donning Sun Jian's red hood to fool Hua Xiong in Chapter 5 of SGYY) might be found? (There are some examples of this same ruse in Icelandic sagas, too.) What about a single arrow, bamboo stick, or thread being easily broken, while several of any of these items put together are strong? (Was it the story of Mori Motonari being used in Akira Kurosawa's Ran and now numerous films from many genres--and not just in Asian-themed films?) These stock story-telling devices are common and used with varying effects.
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Re: Sun Jian "Collecting Arrows" in Chapter 7 of SGYY

Unread postby Gongsun Idiot » Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:22 pm

If they had fire arrows, couldn´t they have burned Sun Jian, Sun Ce and the whole rest alive? :devil:
Wonder why they didn´t...
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Re: Sun Jian "Collecting Arrows" in Chapter 7 of SGYY

Unread postby Aaron.K » Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:45 pm

Gongsun Idiot wrote:If they had fire arrows, couldn´t they have burned Sun Jian, Sun Ce and the whole rest alive? :devil:
Wonder why they didn´t...


You don't normally use fire arrows when shooting from a crossbow. Not to mention fire arrows are actually rarely used, as they will either go out, or they won't do anything. An arrow sticking in a soldier is just the same as an arrow on fire sticking in a soldier. If they wanted something burned, they usually just got some soldiers to sneak in and set it on fire with a torch rather than using flaming arrows.
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Re: Sun Jian "Collecting Arrows" in Chapter 7 of SGYY

Unread postby Tianshan Zi » Mon Dec 01, 2008 3:33 pm

Gongsun Idiot wrote:If they had fire arrows, couldn´t they have burned Sun Jian, Sun Ce and the whole rest alive? :devil:
Wonder why they didn´t...

I think that this is a valid question, especially as the targets of Huang Zu's volleys would likley have been rivercraft, which were often susceptible to incindiary tactics. I don't know the reason. Of course, we also do not know the atmospheric conditions on that day. Perhaps mist, wind direction/strength, rain, etc. would not offer the best conditions for an incindiary attack?

In addition, a big factor to take into consideration is the supply of, or lack of, fuel to wrap around the tips of the fire-arrows; it is my understanding that animal fat was often a significant ingredient in this fuel. Perhaps Huang Zu's force lacked a supply of fuel for these flaming arrows? Also, arrows tipped with a flaming fuel wrap would have a shorter range, so if Sun Jian's boats stayed a certain distance from shore, Huang Zu's only option would have been "regular" arrows.

Good question! :)
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Re: Sun Jian "Collecting Arrows" in Chapter 7 of SGYY

Unread postby Gongsun Idiot » Sun Dec 07, 2008 10:40 am

Tianshan Zi wrote:
Gongsun Idiot wrote:If they had fire arrows, couldn´t they have burned Sun Jian, Sun Ce and the whole rest alive? :devil:
Wonder why they didn´t...

I think that this is a valid question, especially as the targets of Huang Zu's volleys would likley have been rivercraft, which were often susceptible to incindiary tactics. I don't know the reason. Of course, we also do not know the atmospheric conditions on that day. Perhaps mist, wind direction/strength, rain, etc. would not offer the best conditions for an incindiary attack?

In addition, a big factor to take into consideration is the supply of, or lack of, fuel to wrap around the tips of the fire-arrows; it is my understanding that animal fat was often a significant ingredient in this fuel. Perhaps Huang Zu's force lacked a supply of fuel for these flaming arrows? Also, arrows tipped with a flaming fuel wrap would have a shorter range, so if Sun Jian's boats stayed a certain distance from shore, Huang Zu's only option would have been "regular" arrows.

Good question! :)

Thanks :)
Your knowledge about those miltary details is really admirable.
Cao Cao was one of the most friendly persons of his time. He was simply ... missunderstood.
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Re: Sun Jian "Collecting Arrows" in Chapter 7 of SGYY

Unread postby Tianshan Zi » Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:13 pm

Gongsun Idiot wrote:Thanks :)
Your knowledge about those miltary details is really admirable.

Ah, thank you for the compliment, but truly, any knowledge I have of military history comes entirely from the research and writing of others and my participation in the historical wargaming hobby! :lol:

And, Gongsun Idiot, I really appreciate your question, because it prompted me (and others) to think more deeply about the possibilities and limitations of the specific military encounter we are discussing. Cheers! :)

Does anyone else have any insights into our topic?
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Re: Sun Jian "Collecting Arrows" in Chapter 7 of SGYY

Unread postby Sun Fin » Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:51 pm

Tianshan Zi wrote: What about a single arrow, bamboo stick, or thread being easily broken, while several of any of these items put together are strong?


Occording to legend Heolun showed this trick to Temujin, Bekther, Khasar and Khajiun, Temüge and Bekter when they are deserted by the tribe. Supposedly one of the reasons Genghis Khan was so dedicated to bringing the tribes together!
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Re: Sun Jian "Collecting Arrows" in Chapter 7 of SGYY

Unread postby Lu Kang » Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:25 pm

Interestingly enough the original "Arrow Collecting" story is based on an event that happened to Sun Quan in the SGZ (or rather in a note in SGZ). One of the times that Cao Cao or Cao Pi came down to attack Wu, Sun Quan went on a boat into the river to survey his opponenet's army. The Wei armies then were ordered to fire their crossbows. Sun Quan's ship was hit with so many arrows in the side that it began to tip. So Sun Quan ordered the ship turned around so the other side could collect arrows and right the ship. This story was of course adapted into Zhuge Liang collecting the arrows.
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