Sanguo zhi pinghua 三國志平話 ("A storytelling of the Records of the Three Kingdoms") is a fictionalized account of the Records of the Three Kingdoms. The word pinghua 平話 refers to storytelling as a form of art. It's a bit like Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in several ways, and because it actually pre-dates Romance of the Three Kingdoms, it may have been an important form of inspiration for it. Evidence of this are the many fictional stories that are present in identical or near-identical form in both works and some of the fictional characters that were introduced in Sanguo zhi pinghua and taken into Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Bits of informationEdit

The Sanguo zhi pinghua was released during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) from 1321-1323. An earlier edition was released in 1294 under the title Sanfen shilüe 三分事略 ("A Brief Account of the Tripartation"). The content of these works are basically the same, though an obvious difference may be the art at the top of every page.
Three Brothers versus Lü Bu at Hulao - Yuan SFSL 16

Duel at Hulao Pass in Sanfen shilüe.

The Three Duel Lü Bu - SGZ PH 16

Duel at Hulao Pass in Sanguo zhi pinghua.

The art of the Sanfen shilüe looks more simplistic than the Sanguo zhi pinghua counterpart.

Both these works are believed to have set the foundation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. However the overall story plot and character development in Sanguo zhi pinghua are not well constructed and developed, and the main characters, Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, are portrayed as being somewhat more violent than they are in Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

There are some obvious differences between Sanguo zhi pinghua and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In Pinghua the three sworn brothers are much more the central point of the story than in Romance. They are without a doubt the main characters. Especially Zhang Fei, who is also the strongest warrior in this story (even besting Lü Bu). Zhuge Liang, already an unparalelled mastermind in Romance, is more invincible in Sanguo zhi pinghua, destroying Zhou Yu and Sima Yi with even more ease than in Romance.

Read the Sanguo zhi pinghua online (English and Chinese)Edit

the entire Chinese version can be viewed by clicking on Part A, Part B or Part C in the table below. An English translation is currently work in progress, but you can read the already translated pages by clicking on the page number on the table below.
Part A
Page Page-title
(Chinese) [n 1]
1 漢帝賞春 The Emperor of Han enjoys the view of the Spring Prelude
2 天差仲相作陰君 The Heaven Emperor Assigns Zhongxiang to be the Judge of Underworld
3 仲相斷陰間公事 Zhongxiang judges dealing in the Underworld
4 孫學究得天書 Schoolteacher Sun Receives the Book from Heaven
5 黃巾叛 Yellow Turban bandits Rise of Liu Bei
6 桃園結義(一) Brotherhood Sworn in the Peach Orchard
7 桃園結義(二) Brotherhood Sworn in the Peach Orchard
8 張飛見黃巾 Zhang Fei meets the Yellow Turbans
9 破黃巾 Defeating the Yellow Turbans
10 得勝班師 Return after Victory
11 張飛殺太守 Zhang Fei kills the Grand Administrator
12 張飛鞭督郵 Zhang Fei whips the Imperial Inspector
13 玄德作平原縣丞 Xuande starts in Pingyuan county
14 玄德平原德政及民 Xuande favoured by Pingyuan's government and people
15 董卓弄權 Dong Zhuo abuses power Cao Cao takes power, Dong Zhuo and Lü Bu defeated
16 三戰呂布 The Three Fight Lü Bu
17 王允獻董卓貂蟬 Wang Yun presents to Dong Zhuo Diaochan
18 呂布刺董卓 Lü Bu stabs Dong Zhuo
19 張飛捽袁襄 Zhang Fei seizes Yuan Xiang
20 張飛三出小沛 Zhang Fei Thrice Leaves Xiaopei
21 張飛見曹操 Zhang Fei meets Cao Cao
22 水浸下邳擒呂布 Lü Bu gets captured in a flooded Xiapi
23 曹操斬陳宮 Cao Cao decapitates Chen Gong
Part B
24 漢獻帝宣玄德關張 Emperor Xian of Han proclaims Xuande, Guan, Zhang Defeat of Liu Bei
25 曹操勘吉平關公襲車冑 Cao Cao investigates Ji Ping, Lord Guan attacks Che Zhou
26 趙雲見玄德 Zhao Yun meets Xuande
27 關公刺顏良 Lord Guan skewers Yan Liang
28 曹公贈雲長袍 Lord Cao presents Yunchang a robe
29 雲長千里獨行 Yunchang travels a thousand li alone
30 關公斬蔡陽 Lord Guan decapitates Cai Yang
31 古城聚義
32 先主跳澶溪 Former Lord jumps over a river
33 三顧孔明 Attending Kongming thrice Revival of Liu Bei
34 孔明下山 Kongming descends down the mountain
35 玄德哭荊王墓
36 趙雲抱太子 Zhao Yun carries the heir
37 張飛拒橋退卒 Zhang Fei Blocks the River and Breaks the Bridge
38 孔明殺曹使 Kongming kills Cao Shi Three Kingdoms in conflict
39 魯肅引孔明說周瑜 Lu Su leads Kongming to talk with Zhou Yu
40 黃蓋詐降蔣幹 Huang Gai deceives Jiang Gan
41 赤壁鏖兵 Fierce battle at Chibi
42 玄德黃鶴樓私遁 Xuande escapes at Yellow Crane Tower
43 曹璋射周瑜 Cao Zhang shoots by Zhou Yu
44 孔明班師入荊州 Kongming triumphs in Jing Province
45 吳夫人欲殺玄德 Lady Wu wants to kill Xuande
46 吳夫人回面 Lady Wu returns
Part C
47 龐統謁玄德 Pang Tong visits Xuande The establishment of Shu-Han
48 張飛刺蔣雄
49 孔明引眾見玄德
50 曹操殺馬滕 Cao Cao kills Ma Teng
51 馬超敗曹公 Ma Chao defeats Lord Cao
52 玄德符江會劉璋 Xuande takes the riverlands from Liu Zhang
53 落城龐統中箭
54 孔明說降張益
55 封五虎將 Five Tiger Generals Enfeoffed
56 關公單刀會
57 黃忠斬夏侯淵 Huang Zhong beheads Xiahou Yuan
58 張飛捉于昶 Zhang Fei captures Yu Chang
59 關公斬龐德佐
60 關公水渰于禁軍
61 先主托孔明佐太子 The Former Lord entrusts Kongming to assist the heir The fall of Shu-Han
62 劉禪即位 Liu Shan ascends the throne
63 孔明七縱七擒 Kongming's seven captures and releases
64 孔明木牛流馬 Kongming's wooden oxen and flowing horses
65 孔明斬馬 Kongming decapitates Ma [Wei]
66 孔明百箭射張郃 Kongming shoots and kills Zhang He with a hundred arrows
67 孔明出師 Kongming's Apprentice
68 秋風五丈原 Autumn at the Wuzhang Plains
69 將星墜孔明營

List of fictional characters exclusive to Sanguo zhi pinghuaEdit

Main article: List of fictional people in Sanguo zhi pinghua

List of fictional events exclusive to Sanguo zhi pinghuaEdit

Main article: List of fictional stories in Sanguo zhi pinghua

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is known for its various fictional events, such as the Battle of Hulao Pass or Zhang Fei's trashing of Du Biao, the Imperial Inspector. Many, but not all of these events, find their origin in Sanguo zhi pinghua / Sanfen shilüe. Below you will find a list of events that are exclusive to these texts, and thus not taken into Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

  • Lü Bu murdered Ding Yuan and stole Red Hare from him, by his own accord.
  • The Imperial Inspector was seized by both Zhang Fei and Guan Yu, who stripped him and tied him to a hitching post, gave him a solid beating and then cut him into 6 parts, which they hung in different places of the city.
  • When the anti-Dong Zhuo coalition was formed, Cao Cao set out to personally find and recruit Liu Bei.
  • Sun Jian lost to Lü Bu and escaped by hanging his helmet and robe on a tree. Dong Zhuo's men retrieved the gear and were going to bring them to Dong Zhuo, but then Zhang Fei ambushed them and took back the helmet and robe. Zhang Fei then took them back to Sun Jian and shamed him in front of everyone.
  • When Zhang Fei duelled Lü Bu, he actually had the upper hand.
  • On the eve of the battle of Chibi, Sun Quan went to Lady Wu for ideas. She told him directly to ally with Liu Bei, and said that Sun Jian had said that in case of emergency, Sun Quan should make Zhou Yu Commander-in-Chief and Huang Gai the leader of the vanguard, and Cao Cao would be automatically defeated.
  • The arrow-boat idea, also on the eve of the battle of Chibi, came from Zhou Yu, not Zhuge Liang.
  • When the Simas usurped Wei, the former Han emperor Xian laughed himself to death.


  • Zhang Jue, in historical sources written as 張角, is written in SGZ Pinghua as 張斍.
  • Mi Zhu, in historical sources written as 麋竺, is written in SGZ Pinghua as 糜竺 (Mei Zhu).
  • Yellow Turban leader Zhang Liang 張梁 is called Zhang Biao 張表.
  • Bian Zhang 邊章, a Liang Province rebel who is believed to have died about 185 historically, debuts in SGZ Pinghua about the time Ma Teng dies (historically in 212).

  1. In Sanguo zhi pinghua every page has an image and every image has a description or "title". In this column all imagedescriptions are listed.


  • Liu Shuhua 劉淑華. Sanguo zhi pinghua yumao pingben Sanguo yanyi zhi qingjie bijiao 三國志平話與毛評本三國演義之情節比較. Taiwan: National University, 2006.
  • Roberts, Moss. Three Kingdoms. Vol 2. California: University of California Press, 1994. 2 vols.