Yong Kai 雍闓 was a local leader active in the region of Nanzhong, which lay south in Yi Province. During Liu Bei’s and Liu Shan’s reign of the province Yong Kai embarked on a rebellion against them.


Yong Kai was a local chieftain who hailed from Yizou commandery in Yi Province.[1] In the south of Yi Province (Nanzhong region) he was known for being liberal and trustworthy.[4]

The Nanzhong region was for a long time ruled by Liu Zhang, however in 215 AD his relative Liu Bei took Yi Province from him and thus the region of Nanzhong also fell in his hands.

Though there have been no recorded uprisings by Yong Kai (or any of his later allies) during Liu Zhang’s reign, it was only a matter of months before Yong Kai rebelled after Liu Bei took Yi Province. Yong Kai attacked and killed the Grand Administrator of Yizhou Commandery Zheng Ang 正昂 and sent envoys to various personages and also sought contact with Sun Quan.[3] Some messages reached Shi Xie 士燮 in Jiaozhi commandery in Jiao Province, who passed them on to Sun Quan’s Inspector Bu Zhi 步騭, who was sent by Sun Quan to inspect Shi Xie.[3] For the next several years Yong Kai and his associates were maintained as agents of Sun Quan in the southern part of Yi Province.[5]

About 220 AD the Shu-Han Lieutenant-General Zhang Yi 張裔 became the new Grand Administrator of Yizhou Commandery. He was instructed to settle the commandery. In the meantime Yong Kai had been busy establishing a general hegemony in Nanzhong. When Zhang Yi came to the district to take office, Yong Kai impeded him and did not recognize the sovereignty of Shu-Han.[3] He feigned an instruction from ghosts, saying:

The magistrate Zhang Yi is like a gourd. Glossy on the surface, but coarse inside. He is not worthy of killing, he shall be bound and given to the Wu.[3]

In the fourth month of 223 AD Liu Bei died following his loss against Lu Xun at Xiaoting. The next month he was succeeded by his incompetent son Liu Shan. About this time Yong Kai revolted again and seized Zhang Yi. Yong Kai sent Zhang Yi to Sun Quan as a means of offering allegiance. Sun Quan appointed Yong Kai as Grand Administrator of Yongchang Commandery,[n 1] however the Yongchang commandery lay in the lands of Shu-Han. So when Yong Kai came to take office he was met with resistance from Shu-Han officials Lü Kai 呂凱 and Wang Kang 王伉, who ordered their under-officials and the common folk to close all borders and resist Yong Kai by all means.[7]

Being unable to advance Yong Kai called upon Meng Huo 孟獲, a man of the district. Meng Huo enticed and incited the various barbarian tribes, who then followed him. Among those barbarians were Zhu Bao 朱褒 and Gao Ding 高定 in Zangke commandery and Yuexi commandery respectively.[4]

Zhuge Liang’s Southern CampaignEdit

In the third month of 225 Zhuge Liang left Shu-Han’s capital city of Chengdu and headed southwards to pacify the region of Nanzhong. At Anshang he split his army. Zhuge Liang went westwards to Beishi in Yuexi commandery. Ma Zhong 馬忠 went eastwards to Zangke commandery. A third army, led by Li Hui 李恢 marched to Yizhou commandery through Jianning.[7]

In Yuexi commandery Gao Ding constructed many fortifications at Maotou, Dingzo and Beishui, to defend against the incoming Shu-Han forces. The barbarians’ intent was to draw Zhuge Liang deep into Yong Kai and Meng Huo’s lines and then let Gao Ding strike from the west, so as to encircle Zhuge Liang. However, following a heated debate over tactics some of Gao Ding’s subordinates murdered Yong Kai and the plan was not set in motion.[2]

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Art galleryEdit


  1. “吳主孫權遙用闓為永昌太守;,”[6]
  • Shi Yi 士壹 in Hepu commandery in Jiaozhi Province once sent Sun Quan horses that came "from the west". It is possible these horses came from Nanzhong, since we know that Shi Yi's brother Shi Xie had contact with Sun Quan and Yong Kai.[8]
  • Thinking imaginary, Sun Quan might've wanted to manipulate the overtures of Yong Kai in such a way as to confirm his own autonomy, and seek to establish a semi-independent confederation of local groups across the whole of the south.[5]

Fact vs. FictionEdit


  • ...Yong Kai did not join Meng Huo, rather Meng Huo joined Yong Kai.
  • ...the size of Yong Kai's army is unknown.
  • ...the campaign against Yong Kai and Meng Huo was not as large as described in Romance of the Three Kingdoms.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 de Crespigny, A Biographical Dictionary, biography of Yong Kai, page 989
  2. 2.0 2.1 Herman, The Kingdoms of Nanzhong in T’oung Pao 95, page 261
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Fang, Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms, volume 1, page 160
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fang, Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms, volume 1, page 143
  5. 5.0 5.1 de Crespigny, Generals of the South, page 340
  6. Chang Qu, Huáyáng guó zhí, scroll 4
  7. 7.0 7.1 Fang, Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms, volume 1, page 194
  8. de Crespigny, Generals of the South, page 341