Tuesday, May 6, 2008
The novel Journey to the West (Xiyouji), written by Wu Cheng'en (c.1500-82), begins with the birth of Monkey King on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. Being extremely smart, he learned all the magic tricks from a Taoist master. He can transform himself into seventy-two different images. He can travel 180,000 miles in a single somersault. The weapon that he uses is a golden iron bar that can expand or shrink at its owner's command.
Having eaten the peaches of immortality specially grown for the banquet to be held by the Heavenly Queen Mother of the West, the Buddha trap him beneath the Mountain of the Five Elements.
Five hundred years later, Wukong was released by the monk Xuan Zang on his quest to obtain the holy Buddhist scriptures from India. These two, and three other pilgrims - Pigsy, Sha Monk and the dragon horse - have to overcome 81 calamities and confrontations in the form of supernatural phenomena and monsters before reaching their goal and returning to China with the texts, which they did and became Buddhas in the end.
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