Cai Fu – Water Margin

铁臂膊蔡福 - 《水浒传》

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Cai Fu is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels in Chinese literature. Nicknamed “Iron Arm”, he ranks 94th among the 108 Stars of Destiny and 58th among the 72 Earthly Fiends. Wikipedia
First appearance: Chapter 62
Notable aliases: “Iron Arm”, 鐵臂膊
Simplified Chinese: 蔡福


Cai Fu, also known as Cai Jing, is a character from the classic Chinese novel “Water Margin” (also known as “Outlaws of the Marsh”). He is a government official during the Song Dynasty, and one of the “Four Evil Officials” in the novel.

Cai Fu’s character is initially portrayed as a sly and corrupt official who uses his power for personal gain. He is introduced in Chapter 11 of the novel as the Governor of Huaiyang, where he is described as a greedy and selfish man who takes advantage of his position to enrich himself and his family.

Despite his reputation as a corrupt official, Cai Fu is able to maintain his position through his close ties with the powerful eunuch Gao Qiu, who is also one of the “Four Evil Officials”. Cai Fu’s daughter is married to Gao Qiu’s nephew, and he often uses his influence to help Gao Qiu advance his own agenda.

However, Cai Fu’s downfall comes when he incurs the wrath of the protagonist of the novel, Song Jiang, who leads a group of outlaws against the corrupt government officials. In Chapter 13, Song Jiang and his men attack Cai Fu’s mansion, kill his guards, and take him captive.

Cai Fu is brought before Song Jiang, who accuses him of corruption and demands that he confess his crimes. Cai Fu initially denies any wrongdoing, but eventually admits to his crimes after being tortured by Song Jiang’s men.

Cai Fu’s fate is left uncertain after his confession. In some versions of the novel, he is spared and forced to retire from public office, while in others he is executed for his crimes.

Cai Fu’s character is notable for his portrayal as a corrupt official who represents the flaws of the Song Dynasty government. Through his character, the novel critiques the widespread corruption and abuse of power in the Song Dynasty, and the inability of the government to address these issues.

In addition, Cai Fu’s character also highlights the theme of loyalty and betrayal in the novel. Despite his close ties to Gao Qiu, he is ultimately betrayed by his ally and brought to justice by the outlaws. This reflects the novel’s emphasis on the importance of loyalty and the consequences of betrayal.

Overall, Cai Fu is a complex and nuanced character in “Water Margin” who represents the corruption and flaws of the Song Dynasty government, as well as the theme of loyalty and betrayal.

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