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___ Sun Wukong, "The Monkey King" or "The Great Sage Equalling Heaven"

Sun Wukong (traditional Chinese: 孫悟空; simplified Chinese: 孙悟空; pinyin: Sūn Wùkōng) is one of the fictional main characters of the Chinese novel ‘Journey to the West’.


 
The character, in the West known as the Monkey King, accompanies the Tang monk Xuanzang on his journey to retrieve Buddhist sutras from India. Xuanzang's safety is constantly threatened by supernatural beings, and Sun Wukong often acts as a bodyguard.

Sun Wukong was known to have incredible strength, being able to travel high speed, (he could cover 108,000 li in one leap), knowing 72 transformations, which allowed him to transform into various animals and objects. He also knew various spells such as commanding the wind, conjuring protective circles against demons, or freezing humans, demons, and gods alike with one word.

In the novel, Sun Wukong and Xuanzang are joined by Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing, both of whom were ordered to accompany the priest to atone for their crimes. The priest's horse is actually a dragon prince who had been defeated by Sun Wukong and tamed by Guan Yin.
The group encounters a series of eighty-one tribulations before accomplishing their mission and returning safely to China.

The Monkey King should not be confused with the Monkey God Hanuman, the Hindu god. The two appear to be unrelated.
The Monkey King Sun Wukong
Mask of the Monkey King "Sun Wukong" at a parade; China Town, Bangkok
Photo © Valeska Gehrmann

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