Myths and Legends of China

Page: 150

The Magic Gourd

Sun went to meet the Demons, and in conversation learnt from them that they were on their way to catch the famous Monkey, and that the magic gourd and vase were for that purpose. They showed these treasures to him, and explained that the gourd, though small, could hold a thousand people. “That is nothing,” replied Sun. “I have a gourd which can contain all the heavens.” At this they marvelled greatly, and made a bargain with him, according to which he was to give them his gourd, after it had been tested as to its capacity to contain the heavens, in exchange for their precious gourd and vase. Going up to Heaven, the Monkey obtained permission to extinguish the light of the sun, moon, and stars for one hour. At noon the next day there was complete darkness, and the Demons believed Sun when he stated that he had put the whole heavens into his gourd so that there could be no light. They then handed over to the Monkey their magic gourd and vase, and in exchange he gave them his false gourd. Page 348

The Magic Rope

On discovering that they had been deceived, the Demons made complaint to their chiefs, who informed them that Sun, by pretending to be one of the Immortals, had outwitted them. They had now lost two out of their five magic treasures. There remained three, the magic sword, the magic palm fan, and the magic rope. “Go,” said they, “and invite our dear grandmother to come and dine on human flesh.” Personating one of the Demons, Sun himself went on this errand. He told the old lady that he wanted her to bring with her the magic rope, with which to catch Sun. She was delighted, and set out in her chair carried by two fairies.

When they had gone some few li, Sun killed the ladies, and then saw that they were foxes. He took the magic rope, and thus had three of the magic treasures. Having changed the dead so that they looked like living creatures, he returned to the Lotus Cave. Many small demons came running up, saying that the old lady had been slain. The Demon-king, alarmed, proposed to release the whole party. But his younger brother said: “No, let me fight Sun. If I win, we can eat them; if I fail, we can let them go.”

After thirty bouts Sun lost the magic rope, and the Demon lassoed him with it and carried him to the cave, and took back the magic gourd and vase. Sun now transformed himself into two false demons. One he placed instead of himself in the lasso bound to a pillar, and then went and reported to the second Demon-chief that Sun was struggling hard, and that he should be bound with a stronger rope lest he make his escape. Thus, by this strategy, Sun obtained possession of the magic rope again. By a similar trick he also got back the magic gourd and vase. Page 349

The Master Rescued

Sun and the Demons now began to wrangle about the respective merits of their gourds, which, each assured the other, could imprison men and make them obey their wishes. Finally, Sun succeeded in putting one of the Demons into his gourd.

There ensued another fight concerning the magic sword and palm fan, during which the fan was burnt to ashes. After more encounters Sun succeeded in bottling the second Demon in the magic vase, and sealed him up with the seal of the Ancient of Days. Then the magic sword was delivered, and the Demons submitted. Sun returned to the cave, fetched his Master out, swept the cave clean of all evil spirits, and they then started again on their westward journey. On the road they met a blind man, who addressed them saying: “Whither away, Buddhist Priest? I am the Ancient of Days. Give me back my magic treasures. In the gourd I keep the pills of immortality. In the vase I keep the water of life. The sword I use to subdue demons. With the fan I stir up enthusiasm. With the cord I bind bundles. One of these two Demons had charge of the gold crucible. They stole my magic treasures and fled to the mundane sphere of mortals. You, having captured them, are deserving of great reward.” But Sun replied: “You should be severely punished for allowing your servants to do this evil in the world.” The Ancient of Days replied: “No, without these trials your Master and his disciples could never attain to perfection.”

Sun understood and said: “Since you have come in person for the magic treasures, I return them to you.” After receiving them, the Ancient of Days returned to his T’ai Sui mansion in the skies. Page 350

The Red Child Demon

By the autumn the travellers arrived at a great mountain. They saw on the road a red cloud which the Monkey thought must be a demon. It was in fact a demon child who, in order to entrap the Master, had had himself bound and tied to the branch of a tree. The child repeatedly cried out to the passers-by to deliver him. Sun suspected that it was a trick; but the Master could no longer endure the pitiful wails; he ordered his disciples to loose the child, and the Monkey to carry him.

As they proceeded on their way the Demon caused a strong whirlwind to spring up, and during this he carried off the Master. Sun discovered that the Demon was an old friend of his, who, centuries before, had pledged himself to eternal friendship. So he consoled his comrades by saying that he felt sure no harm would come to the Master.

A Prospective Feast

Soon Sun and his companions reached a mountain covered with pine-forests. Here they found the Demon in his cave, intent upon feasting on the Priest. The Demon refused to recognize his ancient friendship with Sun, so the two came to blows. The Demon set fire to everything, so that the Monkey might be blinded by the smoke. Thus he was unable to find his Master. In despair he said: “I must get the help of some one more skilful than myself.” Pa-chieh was sent to fetch Kuan Yin. The Demon then seized a magic bag, transformed himself into the shape of Kuan Yin, and invited Pa-chieh to enter the cave. The simpleton fell into the trap and was seized and placed in the bag. Then the Demon appeared in his true form, and said: “I am Page 351the beggar child, and mean to cook you for my dinner. A fine man to protect his Master you are!” The Demon then summoned six of his most doughty generals and ordered them to accompany him to fetch his father, King Ox-head, to dine off the pilgrim. When they had gone Sun opened the bag, released Pa-chieh, and both followed the six generals.

The Generals Tricked