Year of The Monkey Picture

"Year of The Monkey", represented as Sun Wukong, The Monkey King. XIVh, four.

From a topic on Sketch Dailies: "Monkey".

Happy New Year!

The story of Sun Wukong is so cool. It reads like an amalgam of the legend/myth of Thor, Loki, and Superman wrapped in Chinese-red ribbon.

Sun Wukong is the name given to him by his sifu, or teacher. His real name is never known (to my knowledge). He was born from an ornate stone egg that formed when the Heavens met the Earth. He's possessed of incredible strength and speed, as well as other abilities. He's heroic, but also bears the personality of a trickster.

As he matures he's given several tasks that, to Sun Wukong, seem menial. He lashes out and The Jade Emperor sends assassins to kill him. They fail, clearly. Sun Wukong declares himself "The Heavenly Monkey King".

For his audacity, he is (depending on which scholar you listen to) either taken to or flies to Heaven and does battle with the Four Heavenly Kings and fights and defeats their hundreds of thousands of heavenly warriors. Exhausted with Sun Wukong, The Four seek The Buddha's intervention. The Buddha imprisons Sun Wukong inside of Five Elements Mountain with a ward for five hundred years. He is freed by Xuanzhang and taken as his disciple.

Sun Wukong becomes a more skilled warrior. Some martial arts historians believe that he is the origin of Monkey-style wushu. One of the trademark techniques of the style, "Monkey Steals the Peach" may reference one of the tasks that Sun Wukong was given in his early life: guarding the Jade Emperor's Heavenly Garden where a magical peach tree is kept.

Sun Wukong swims to the underwater Kingdom to Ao Quang, the Dragon Lord of the East Sea. Again, depending on the scholar, he went there by choice to search out additional training in the Dragon Lord's kingdom, or he fled there.

He winds up in the Ao Quang's court and asks for a weapon. The mystical weapons are so varied, but none suit Wukong. The dragon queen tries to trick Wukong by offering him a mystical pillar that can be moved by no one. Wukong lifts it easily and finds it magical beyond the knowledge of the Dragon Lord. The weapon, "Ruyi Jingu Bang", will define Sun Wukong. Weighing seventeen thousand five hundred and fifty pounds, yet it can be as massive or as small as Wukong commands it. He was said to be able to shrink it to the size of a needle and wear it on his ear.

To appease the ever strengthening Wukong, the Dragon Lord gives him a suit of enchanted golden armor and a red cloak, as well as several rare potions. Inside of Laozi's eight trigram training hall (or furnace, depending on the scholar), Wukong's body becomes "as iron", and his eyes golden; his senses enhanced and heightened more and more.

Sun Wukong/The Monkey King was supposedly able to create ghosts of himself from any object he touches. More of the trickster traits. He was able to transform himself into seventy five (?) different animal forms. He is also gifted with an incredibly adept and cunning mind. And a quick wit.

His other defining trait is his only weakness: his crown, a gift from Quanyin, the goddess of love and peace. His former sifu, Xuanzhang becomes Wukong's guardian, and is given the only mantra that can tighten and loosen the crown.

The clever Monkey... Great character. One of China's and India's best. The reason that I include India: Again, depending on the scholar, Sun Wukong may be of the same species as the Hannuman. Some scholars and cryptozoologists think the Hunnaman are an earlier evolution of man that exist now, as Bigfoot.

Fun, this.

*peace!*

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