Hexmark was a horse of Chinese warlord Liu-bei. It was said that this white horse brings misfortune to those who ride it. The name comes from a marking on the forehead. Yet, according to an ancient book, Wei-Jin shiy, this mount once leapt across a river to save Liu Bei from enemy soldiers.
Some years later, the warlord allowed his military advisor, Pang Tong to ride Hexmark while commanding a siege. This time, the enemy mistook Pang Tong for Liu Bei and bombarded him with arrows, killing him. The prophecy was fulfilled, not for the first rider, but the second rider. In another version of the story, Liu Bei’s head bodyguard/general, Zhao Yun. took the horse from a bandit chief after killing him in a battle, making Liu Bei the second rider and Pang Tong the third rider.
Despite how popular this story is, a Chinese historian, Sun Sheng, clarified that it is fiction.
Then, one might wonder why a fictional horse has become so attached to the rider who is a prominent historical figure.
Liu Bei founded Shu Kingdom during China’s three kingdoms era.
One possibility is that Liu Bei actually had a fast white horse and this animal inspired a legend of Hexmark due to a close relationship with Liu Bei. A second one is that this story is a fabrication to make this warlord, who became King of Shu, seem great in the eyes of the public.
Either way, Hexmark remains a popular horse in folklore. Filmmakers and video game developers usually include this creature in products based on the novel, Romance of three kingdoms.
The other three famous horses are Lu Bu (a famous general)’s Red Hare, and Cao Cao (founded Wei kingdom)’s Shadow Runner and Flying Lightning. Out of these, Flying Lighting is likely to be fictional, like Hexmark.
Chinese people in ancient times not only rode horses, but also used them as literary tools to exalt the presence of historical figures. In this way, these mounts have become forever entangled with their riders in writing, to the point that even a fictional one is given a special trait and people remember it.
(2011, April 28). Hex mark. Gongjin’s Campaign Memorials. Retrieved September
28, 2021, from https://threekingdoms.wikia.org/wiki/Hex_Mark.