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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "The Ape Sun Wu Kung"

The Ape Sun Wu Kung

Sun Wu Kung was induced to put it on, and it at once grew into his flesh so that he could not remove it. And Guan Yin gave the Monk a magic formula by means of which the ring could be tightened, should the ape grow disobedient. But from that time on he was always polite and well-mannered.

Note: This tale, like “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” is an allegory, the ape symbolizing the human heart. Yet despite its allegorical character, a number of mythological and fairy-tale motives are incorporated in it. The ape himself suggests Hanumant, the companion of Rama. Yo Huang is the Lord of the Heavens. The stone ape is the stone heart of natural man. The Buddhas, blessed spirits and gods, represent the ideals of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Sun Wu Kung: In Chinese apes are called Hu Sun, but the word Hu having an unlucky meaning, the Master chooses Sun as a family name, while at the same time the letter-sign is freed from the radical indicating an animal. Wu Kung—“the magic awaking to nothingness” (Nirwana). The different ways: magic, the way of raising spirits; the sciences: The three faiths are: Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism; to these are added six “schools”: the Yin-Yang School, the Mo-Di School, Medicine, War, Law, Miscellaneous, so that nine directions in all are represented. Quiescence is the Taoism for non-activity, while Action is the Taoism for care of the body, as inaugurated by We Be Yang. The Devil-King of Chaos, i.e., sensuality, whose seat is supposed to be in Kidneys. “Red garments,” colors, here all have an allegorical meaning. Death, i.e., Yama. The Evening Star is the star of metal; Sun Wu Kung also personifies a metal, hence the Evening Star appears as his apologist. As regards Li Dsing and Notscha see No. 18. As regards the Queen Mother of the West, see No. 15. As regards Yang Oerlang, see No. 17. Guan Yin is generally worshipped throughout China as the Feminine goddess. The motive of the magic flight is found frequently in fairy-tales the world over.

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