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Monkey King in China

The Monkey King (Sun Wukong) is one of the most popular or widely known Chinese legends. It is considered one of the four great classic novels that was written during the Ming Dynasty (c.1500 – 1582). The story is about the journey one monk has but the trickery and comedy of the Monkey King is what captures the heart of the audience. The legends are a blend of folklore, religion, allegory, history and satire. As colected in the 100 chapters of Journey to the West in the 16th century by Wu Cheng’en (a scholar-official) they can be read as one long, eventful fairytale.

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The story is based on a true story of a Chinese monk, Xuan Zang (602-664) who travelled on foot to India (the birthplace of Buddhism) to seek for the Buddhist holy book, Sutra. When he returned to China (or called the Great Tang at that time) he translated the sutras into Chinese, thus making a great huge contribution to the development of Buddhism in China.

Magical Monkey King

Monkey King Sun WukongAccording to the legend, the Monkey King is born from the earth known as the stone monkey and fertilized by the grace of Heaven. After he proved to be the only monkey who dare to go through the Water Curtain on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit and set up a kingdom on Earth, he was crowned as the Monkey King.

This extremely smart and capable monkey learned gongfu and magic tricks from a master Taoist. The Monkey King can transform into 72 different images such as a bird, a tree, a beast of prey or a bug so as to sneak into his enemy’s belly to fight him inside out. He can travel 180,000 miles a single somersault and use the clouds as his vehicle. He has a long golden iron bar (given from the Dragon Kings of the Oceans) that can shrink or expand at its owner command (normally stored in his earlobe).

Monkey King Wreaks Havoc in Heaven

After this he began a reign of unbelievable mischief. The Dragon Kings of the Oceans was bullied by him into giving him a Magic Wishing Staff (the golden iron bar) and the clothes to match it. Upon realising that he was also destined to die like everyone else, the Monkey King made it his new goal to become immortal. He took the “Monkey File” in the Register of the Life and Death and crossed off his name and the names of all his monkey subjects, thus rendering all his original subjects immortal as well. In order to punish the Monkey King for the escapades, Heaven sent down people but the Monkey King beat them up and sent them back.

The Monkey King was emboldened by his success and this made him confident enough to go to Heaven himself and demanded the title “The Great Sage Equal of Heaven” but then he committed a series of crimes. He ate the sacred peaches from the Jade Emperor’s garden, making himself even more truly immortal. He drank all the holy wine, eating up all the finger-food, making a mess of the arrangements and dishes prepared for an important banquet. He even gobbling down the elixir concocted by Lao Tsu. He fled from Heaven and pursued by hundred thousand of soldiers. This resulted in a terrible war betwen Heaven and Fruit Flower Mountain. Finally, after Lao Tsu threw down his Diamond Snare, hitting Sun Wukong’s head, he was captured at the end of the war and punished.

No weapon or lighting can harm him. The combination of Monkey’s Taoist skills, the holy food, the Wine of Heaven, the Peaches of Immortality and the five bowls full of Elixir of Long Life he consumed, had made this Monkey truly indestructible. The soldiers couldnt find the way to injure him. Lao Tzu even burn him in his furnace (Crucible of the Eight Triagrams) for 49 days but the only effect it had was to make the Wukong’s eyes permanently red. Sun Wukong escaped and proceeded to wreck total havoc in Heaven, beating up everyone he encountered and smashing everything.

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