An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Su Jian 蘇建

Sep 27, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Su Jian 蘇建 was a military commander during the mid-Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE).

He hailed from Duling 杜陵 (near modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi) and was the father of the famous general Su Wu 蘇武. As a commandant (xiaowei 校尉) he accopanied general Wei Qing 衛青 in his campaigns against the steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴 in 127 BCE. For his military success he was rewarded with the title of Marquis of Pingling 平陵侯 and promoted to Chamberlain for the Palace Garrison (weiwei 衛尉).

Su Jian also took over responsibility for the construction of the Great Wall in the border region to the steppe. In 124 he was appointed mobile corps commander (youji jiangjun 游擊將軍) and commanded a division under a new campaign led by Wei Qing. The success of this campaign resulted in a further war a year later. As a General to the Right (you jiangjun 右將軍) Su Jian encountered the troops of the Xiongnu khan on the battlefield. His troops were heavily defeated by the Xiongnu, but Su Jian escaped.

Only Wei Qing's urgent plea to spare him saved Su Jian from being exectued, and the emperor allowed him to buy himself free. Yet he was stripped of his title as a marquis and was appointed civilian governor (taishou 太守) of the commandery of Dai 代, an office in which he died.

Cang Xiuliang 倉修良, ed. (1996). Hanshu cidian 漢書辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 1100.