From protean ape to handsome saint: the Monkey King.
(Chinese folkloric character)

Whalen Lai

Asian Folklore Studies
Vol.53 No.1 (April 1994)

COPYRIGHT Asian Folklore Studies (Japan) 1994 Abstract

            The novel Monkey or Journey to the West tells of a simian's revolt 
            against Heaven, of its defeat by the Buddha, and of its later being 
            recruited as a pilgrim to protect the monk Tripitaka on his quest 
            for scriptures in India. This essay traces Monkey's background to a) 
            a mythic battle between a land deity and a water deity; b) a myth 
            about an aboriginal in a medieval forest who is converted by 
            Buddhist missionaries and becomes a saint who protects his new 
            faith, just as St. Christopher, originally a subhuman Dog-man in the 
            forest, became the patron saint of travelers; c) a folk Zen parody 
            of the Sixth Patriarch Huineng (who was called a "southern barbarian 
            monkey"); d) an ancient tradition about the Chinese Titans - the 
            demigods of Xia - striking back at the Zhou god of Heaven that 
            displaced them. The appendix goes into the folklore of the Frog, a 
            chthonic deity kept alive among southern non-Chinese aboriginals. 
            Key words: Monkey - water deity - missiology - Zen - Titan 
            As Christianity spread west, into the wilds of the European 
            continent, the desert wilderness came to be replaced by the forest 
            primeval.... In this new context, the location of a sacred utopia, 
            the place where one prepares for the end of time, became the edge of 
            the forest.... Opposed to the world, to inhabited areas where human 
            culture and society thrived, was the vast uninhabited fastness of 
            the forest. This polarity replaced the ancient urbs/rus 
            (city/country) opposition in the European Middle Ages. In this 
            context, savagery (Latin silvatica from silva, forest) was not 
            wholly inhuman, but was located at the absolute limit of human 
            activity. Nevertheless, many crossed this fundamental boundary in 
            the Middle Ages. Besides the monastic hermit, there were kings for 
            whom the forest was a hunting reserve, errant forest-dwellers who 
            eked out a foraging existence, social marginals, the criminals, and 
            the insane. In courtly literature, the forest became a place of 
            adventure, where heroes encountered wild men and savage beasts - and 
            where the distinction between the two was quite blurred. The 
            uninhabited forest, the medieval wilderness, is at once a place of 
            exile, evangelistic mission, adventure, penance, and asylum; a place 
            of terrible fascination to all those who lived hemmed in by its dark 
            presence. It was here, moreover, that most mythic accounts of 
            monstrous persons or races were set.... 
              Every Chinese knows the Xiyouji     the story of the Monkey
            King. It has been recited, staged, illustrated for magazines, and 
            animated for movies and television. It has been honored with two 
            English translations, an abbreviated one by Arthur Waley (1943) and 
            a complete, annotated one by Anthony C. Yu (1977). The latter is by 
            far the better of the two; even its title - The Journey to the West 
            - is a more fitting rendition of the original Chinese than is 
            Waley's Monkey.[1] 
            The story of the Monkey King is made up of two originally 
            independent parts. The first tells of the Monkey King creating havoc 
            in Heaven. This part ends with the Buddha trapping Monkey under the 
            Buddha's cosmic palm. The second half has Monkey, many years later, 
            released from captivity so that he might serve the monk Xuan-zang 
            (Tripitaka) on the latter's journey to the West (i.e., India) in a 
            quest for Buddhist scriptures. The full story as we now have it 
            clearly evolved 
            over time. Wu Cheng'en   is generally regarded as the final author
            and compiler. The finished work is counted as one of China's four 
            major novels. 
            Although the two parts of Monkey's career are now presented as one, 
            we can still enjoy part one without going on to part two. The story 
            of the exploits of the simian trickster defying Heaven can well 
            stand on its own. Here is Monkey upsetting the cosmic order (dike to 
            the Greeks) and, for that act of hubris, suffering a fall. Albert 
            Camus might have preferred the story of this simian Sisyphus to end 
            here: better to have this Chinese Prometheus chained under a rocky 
            mountain than to have him turned into a pious pilgrim to serve a new 
            master. But the tale of the Monkey King as we have it now precludes 
            this type of selective reading a la Camus. It is the destiny of 
            Monkey, Sun Wukong 
            (Monkey Awakened to Emptiness), to change from rebel to pilgrim. The 
            taming of this shrewd ape by the Buddha at the end of the first part 
            leads naturally to his joining the other four pilgrims - Tripitaka, 
            Pigsy, Sandy, and the White Horse - to find Buddhahood in the West. 
            Space precludes an analysis of this "Journey to the West" in the 
            present study, which will only examine Monkey's career up to his 
            capture by the Buddha. 
            Much scholarship, especially in Chinese, has been devoted to the 
            study of this novel, and we cannot hope to survey all of it here. 
            Instead, I would like to focus on a particular area where more work 
            needs to be done. As Anthony Yu noted in the introduction to his 
            The question why "a popular religious folk hero should acquire 
            bizarre animal attendants" and why a monkey figure should enjoy such 
            preeminence cannot be settled until further knowledge in Chinese 
            folklore is gained. (1977, 3) 
            I will attempt to clarify this question by examining how this 
            Ape-Man and enemy of civilized order came in the end to be the St. 
            Christopher of the Buddhist mission in medieval China. 
            Part 1: When Gods Have Two Faces 
            The story of Monkey (our shorthand for the first part of the novel; 
            Journey will henceforth denote the second part) may be grouped under 
            four themes: Monkey's birth, his awakening, his outrages, and his 
            defeat. These four topics, identifiable with chapters in the book, 
            may be aligned with the mythic motifs that inspire them as follows: 
            Scholarly attention has focused to date on the first and the last 
            connections, i.e., on prefigurations of the Monkey King and on his 
            final defeat at the hand of a protagonist. I will review and amend 
            that scholarship in parts 1 and 2 of this paper, and will 
            investigate the other two, less studied, topics in parts 3 and 4. 
            In English, the groundwork on Monkey's origin and end was done by 
            Dudbridge (1970), who lists three major antecedents to Monkey: 1) 
            the White Ape     as a seducer of women; 2) the monkey subdued
            by the god Erlang; and 3) the water monster Wuzhiqi subdued by 
            Sage-King Yu. His findings and views can be summarized as follows. 
            1) The White Ape is a Monkey King known for his abduction of women. 
            According to a variant of this tale in Eberhard (1965), he kidnapped 
            a girl and kept her in his treasure cove. The girl's mother found 
            her way to his distant kingdom, where she managed to fool the small 
            monkeys that kept guard and free her daughter. Mother and child 
            escaped with additional loot from the Monkey King's treasure 
            2) Erlang is a river god known for battling river dragons and other 
            monsters. He once shackled the Monkey King, who claimed to be the 
            Sage Equal to Heaven. Their battle is now preserved in Monkey. 
            3) Wuzhiqi is a water monkey who was subdued by the sage-king 
            Yu    , the hero of the Flood in ancient China. He imprisoned the
            water monster under a mountain. Wuzhiqi is a "spineless" Hydra; 
            Monkey shared his fate in being similarly entrapped under a 
            Dudbridge's findings are enlightening, but fail to deal with the 
            apparent inconsistencies: Monkey never seduced or kidnapped women as 
            the White Ape did, and was more imp than monster. 
            Tripitaka's disciple (Monkey) commits crimes which are mischievous 
            and irreverent, but the white ape is from first to last a monstrous 
            creature which has to be eliminated. The two acquire superficial 
            points of similarity when popular treatment of the respective 
            traditions, in each case of Ming date, coincides in certain details 
            of nomenclature. (Dudbridge 1970, 128)[3] 
            For a precursor to this disciple of Tripitaka, Dudbridge looked to 
            stories about pious monkeys who listen to sutras and to the animal 
            apostles of Mulian in the drama of Mulian's attempt to save his 
            mother from the Buddhist hell.[4] 
           Finally, unlike Wuzhiqi, Monkey is not known to have been a water 
            spirit. In fact, there are times in the novel when Monkey is said to 
            be impotent in water. There is also a separate Water Monkey, a 
            monster who appears later in Journey, that seeks to harm the 
            pilgrims.[5] Logic would therefore suggest that the connection 
            between Monkey, the White Ape, and Wuzhiqi is tenuous. 
            But logic seldom has the last word in myths. In myths, opposites may 
            meet in classic coincidentia oppositorum, and as a part of medieval 
            drama sinners might turn into saints and monsters end up as converts 
            and defenders of the faith. In other words, the very inconsistencies 
            may well provide clues for penetrating the ancient myths and their 
            evolution.[6] And as long as we are dealing in lunar and aquatic 
            myths, we should be prepared for the lunacy of moons and the 
            slipperiness[7] of water.[8] 
            When Good and Evil Were One 
              When Arthur Waley translated the Daodejing    ,  he chose to render
            the title The Way and Its Power (1934) instead of The Way and Its 
            Virtue, justifying this by noting that de connotes mana, and that 
            like mana it was once a premoral concept.[9] In the premoral stage 
            of man's religious development, power encompasses both good and 
            evil. Nietzsche, in his "genealogy of morals," comes to much the 
            same conclusion. That ambivalence may help us appreciate the two 
            faces of certain ancient gods that lurk behind the story of Monkey 
            and Erlang. 
            Erlang is, as we have noted, a Chinese god of the waters. His cult 
            and flourished in Xichuan. As Li Erlang      , his cult merged with
          that of Li Bing    , a historical figure from the Warring States period.
          A governor of Chengtu     , Li Bing was known for his waterworks; he
            created a canal system that is still in use today. By controlling 
            the Yangtze's flow, Li tamed the river and benefited the people. He 
            was the counterpart of the Sage Yu, who stemmed the Great Flood. The 
            only difference is that Yu stopped the flooding of the Yellow River 
            downstream while Li Bing diverted the waters of the Yangtze 
            upstream. Both were lionized by the people, and their lives are 
            shrouded in legend.[10] 
            The myth of Li's feat tells us this: When Li entered the water to 
            tame the river, people reportedly saw, from a distance, a fierce 
            battle between two bulls or rhinoceroses on the bank. One eventually 
            subdued the other. When the myth is translated into more prosaic 
            discourse, it is saying that Li was one bull or rhino and the raging 
            river was the other. The bull or rhino that subdued the river was 
            the one who won the fight. 
            This story might sound odd at first, but it is a variant of a more 
            familiar tale: the myth of two dragons locked in mortal combat. 
            Throughout China's history, sightings of two combatting dragons 
            "outside the village" (i.e., beyond the limit of order), "at a 
            river," or "in the desert" (i.e., in chaos itself) are common. The 
            fight usually takes place "at night" and is almost always witnessed 
            "from a (safe) distance." No respectable travelogue about foreign 
            lands could do without such an episode. 
            Xuan-zang's historical Xiyouji     reported one such elemental
            battle he witnessed en route to India, said to have occurred in the 
            Gobi Desert outside China proper. It is a classic myth of chaos - or 
            of order (cosmos) battling chaos. 
            Regardless of whether chaos, or nature "at war with itself," is seen 
            as a pair of rhinos or as a pair of dragons, the point of the story 
            is the same: there are two sides or faces to nature. In the case of 
            a battle by a river (or on its banks), the story is pointing out 
            that the river can be both good and evil. When the water flows in an 
            orderly fashion, it is good; when the same water floods, it is evil. 
            When the two forces are pictured as draconic, we have a battle of 
            dragons. The 
            auspicious river dragon is called long     , while the malicious one is called
          gao     (corresponding to a kraken). Sometimes the two can be compounded
            as one, in which case we have the classic gao-long, a dragon that 
            gao or "interlocks" with itself. That "mix" can be depicted as a 
            dragon and a kraken with tails interlocking, or else as simply one 
            dragon shown as a snake (dragon) biting its own tail. This image, 
            the symbol of the eternal return, is the image of Time swallowing 
            its own sons, i.e., old Kronos in Greek mythology. The same 
            interlocking design surfaces 
            in China's depiction of its primeval couple, Fuxi     and Nugua     ,
            who, half-human and half-snake, served as the ancestors of man. 
            Their intertwining tails tell a tale later systematized into Chinese 
            metaphysics, which says that there was One Great Unity or Ultimate 
            before the division into male and female, yang and yin. 
            The story of Li Bing battling the river, rhino locking horns with 
            rhino, is a variant of the same cosmic drama. The river and its god 
            are one: the same river with two faces that can nurture as well as 
            kill. In the story the good side wins, but fundamentally good and 
            evil are not moral opposites: they could just as well be the river 
            in its two moods. In Japan, Shintoism knew this as the two sides of 
            the kami: a god can be gentle and good (nigitama) but can suddenly 
            become rough and destructive (aratama). This ambiguity attends a 
            number of Chinese flood 
            heroes: Gong-gong     , the earliest; Gun     , the father of Yu; Sage-King
          Yu himself; Fuxi and Nugua, the divine couple; Yiyi     , born
          of an empty gourd; Ximen Bao     , an official and water engineer at
            Ye; Li Bing in Xichuan; and Erlang alias Yang Jian [Li Bing] in The 
            Investiture of the Gods. Some of these heroes double as villains. 
            Gong-gong, for example, was accused of causing a flood; Gun of 
            making it worse. 
            The choice of animals - a sea creature like the dragon or a land 
            animal like the bull - for representing these forces of nature is in 
            part due to the geographic locations involved. Here is a simple 
            table of the animals involved in three classical Chinese stories of 
            a conflict involving floods: 
            In the case of Li Bing, the battle was in the west and upland, so it 
            is depicted as rhino versus rhino (on land or on the bank). In the 
            case of Sage-king Yu it was in the east and downstream, so it is 
            depicted as dragon versus dragon. Yu as the dragon of order was 
            fighting the kraken of chaos. Since the east is the home of the 
            Green Dragon of the waters and the west is the home of the White 
            Tiger of the land - so goes the later Han schematic iconography - it 
            is only fitting that dragons should battle in the waters to the east 
            while rhinos (bulls, water buffaloes) should fight it out on the 
            banks in the west. 
            In between, we find the story of Ximen Bao, a mix of the two. We are 
            told that Bao was an official appointed to the ancient capital of 
            Told of a yearly sacrifice of a young maiden to Ho Bo    , the river god,
            Bao threw the female shamans who headed the cult into the river 
            instead and thereby put an end to the nonsense. The name Ximen Bao 
            means, literally, "Leopard at the Western Portal." The human 
            official Bao is a personification of what, in a Western context, 
            would be the dog (guarding the gate) of Hades. A persona of the 
            White Tiger of the West (both "white" and "west" describe Death), 
            Bao was the land animal battling the river dragon that was Ho Bo. 
            This was a battle of land versus water and, by correlative 
            extension, of west and east, fall and spring, yin and yang, death 
            and life. 
            Understanding how the same god can have two faces and how it can do 
            battle against its own alter ego better enables us to understand how 
            Monkey and Erlang could well be friends as well as foes; or how 
            Monkey as a beast of the forest could also double as a water 
            Conflict between Protean Siblings 
            In the story of Ximen Bao, Bao the leopard defeated Ho Bo the river 
            dragon, representing a triumph of land over water. At first glance, 
            Erlang the river god outwitting the land animal Monkey appears to be 
            the reverse of this. The reversal would not be unexpected: in the 
            cycle of seasons, sometimes yang is on the ascent and sometimes yin 
            is; both the dragon of water and the tiger of land - each a 
            combination of yin and yang - have their day of victory, i.e., in 
            spring and in fall. But this is not the issue. The issue is that, 
            upon more careful examination, the line of demarcation between land 
            and water may not always be that clear. Monkey could just as well be 
            of the water, and Erlang could just as well be of the land. 
            To begin with, both Monkey and Erlang were protean. Proteus was a 
            minor Titan of the sea known for his ability to assume many forms. 
            That Erlang was protean is to be expected; he could effect multiple 
            transformations as a god of the river. But Monkey had that power 
            too: he had acquired the magical power of earthly transformation, 
            or, better, lunar metamorphosis. Water and moon are related - the 
            lunar pull on the tides is well known and is an accepted part of the 
            mythopoeic imagination. Unlike land, which is formed mass, water is 
            formless and fluid; unlike the sun, which is known for its 
            constancy, the moon is prized for its changes. It waxes and wanes. 
            When the poem Questions 
            to Heaven" in Songs of the South asks, "What virtue (de    ) / Has
            the moon / That as it waxes / It also wanes?" it only underscores 
            the irony that de, which nowadays is associated with constancy - we 
            say "constancy of virtue," for example - used to be associated with 
            inconstancy or potency. De was "power," as Waley has it, the potency 
            for endless change. 
           As Monkey was protean, he was aquatic. That is why Monkey had no 
            trouble diving into the waterfall next to his mountain cave so that 
            he could make his way to the palace of the Dragon King. This he was 
            able to do because in China, as in a number of cultures, all land 
            was thought to rest on water, so that any opening of water would 
            lead to the subterranean ocean and thereby to any other water 
            opening on land. The idea that Monkey could not swim is a legacy of 
            a purely chthonic reading of his past, and is perhaps based on the 
            Romayana (see note 8) or upon an attempt to set up a division of 
            labor among the three fighting attendants of Tripitaka in journey. 
            Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy were best able to fight in the air, on 
            land, and in the water (quicksand), respectively. Monkey, however, 
            had clear aquatic ties. It is as a water monster that he was 
            confined by the Buddha under land, i.e., under a cosmic mountain. 
            Such mountains have regularly been used to keep water ogres down - 
            Wuzhiqi, the Chinese Hydra, suffered that fate under Sage-King Yu. 
            In the story of Madame White Snake, the he-demon of the lake who 
            tried to drown the Golden Mountain was likewise finally pinned under 
            a pagoda (a Buddhakaya on an isle in the middle of the lake. 
            Just as Monkey was not simply a land dweller, Erlang who subdued him 
            was not purely a denizen of the water. Erlang also had both land and 
            water associations - in fact, the name Erlang, which is usually read 
            "Number Two Son," could well mean that there were originally "two" 
            of them. And there were two Erlangs: Li Erlang, who was the god of 
            the waters, and Yang Erlang, who was the god of the forest and the 
            hunt and who ran about with two white hounds. It seems that Li 
            Erlang was worshipped by fishermen and farmers, while Yang Erlang 
            was worshipped by hunters and berdsmen. The god Erlang that appears 
            in Monkey is a mix of the two. When Monkey exercises his protean 
            power, Erlang matches his transformations one by one. He thus fights 
            Monkey on land, in the air, and underwater. This is his Li Erlang 
            aspect. But Erlang's final capture of Monkey is in a game: Monkey is 
            lassoed by Erlang while cornered by two white hounds. Monkey is a 
            victim of the bunt. Here we have the aspect of Yang Erlang 
            What all this says is that Erlang and Monkey were kindred spirits. 
            They were quarrelsome siblings. Both can represent land or water 
            such that their cosmic battle was as much a battle of land vs. 
            water, land vs. land, or water vs. water. There is no inconsistency 
            in Monkey's being both fearful of water and capable (of swimming) in 
            This brings us to the other alleged inconsistency: the charge that 
            Monkey could not possibly be the White Ape because Monkey was not a 
            Beauty and the Beast 
            In the context of his eventual salvation in a religion (Buddhism) 
            that prizes asceticism, it is of course important that Monkey does 
            not seduce women. But to argue therefore that Monkey cannot possibly 
            have had a tie to White Ape the playboy is to forget another Janus 
            aspect of this demigod. Seduction is, after all, the flip side of 
            asceticism, with both pointing to the same age-old concern with 
            Both river nymphs and forest satyrs were regarded as quite fertile. 
            What they did with their fertility - indulge it or deny it - was a 
            matter of choice. Ho Bo, the river god, indulged it by insisting on 
            his annual bride. Ximen Bao, we are told, denied him that perpetual 
            human sacrifice when he stopped the licentious cult by throwing the 
            ugly female shamans into the river and saving the pretty prospective 
            bride. But the idea that Bao was a St. Michael saving a "maiden in 
            distress" from a dirty old monster is a distortion of fact. The 
            female shamans were the happy brides of this Chinese Dracula. Bao 
            was just a disgruntled Mr. Killjoy who did not approve of the rowdy 
            goings-on in this fertility rite during the Chinese lunar version of 
            the "Merrie Month of May."(12) 
            Ximen Bao might have decided to starve the river god's sexual 
            appetite, but Li Bing, who battled the same evil river kraken, 
            apparently decided on a different ruse. It is said that Li Bing once 
            changed himself into two beautiful women (erliang[Character No 
            Conversion), in order to seduce and entrap the monster. This has led 
            some to think that the name Erlang (two males) derives from erliang 
            (thus, two females). The seduction in this case is a positive use of 
            sex to battle the demon. But whether it be positive or negative, the 
            theme is that of fertility, and the cult is that of a man-god 
            In fertility religions, such seduction was fair play in spring, when 
            nymphs by the river inlets and satyrs in the hillsides enticed men 
            and women into sex. In China, Archer Yi[Character No Conversion] 
            fooled around with one such river nymph - to the anger of Ho Bo, who 
            claimed to own all the nymphs. In Greece, the women of Athens ran 
            off merrily to the hills to greet the boyish Dionysos in the forest. 
            In India, gopis still court Krsna in his haunts. All of this was 
            considered harmless fun until Confucian morality, Christian 
            righteousness, and Buddhist asceticism decided that such erotic 
            license was evil. Thus in medieval piety the once innocent nymph 
            became a she-demon and the once worry-free satyr a devil. In Chinese 
            folklore these two classic figures were, respectively, Madame White 
            Snake who dined on young men and King White Ape who kidnapped young 
            girls. They became witch and warlock, with her paying the higher 
            price in the sexist rewrites: he was only enslaved, but she was 
            killed outright.(13) 
            Not all of the demigods of old ended up as demons in the new 
            religions. Some made good, like Erlang. Ximen Bao, who could well 
            have become the Dog of Hades, ended up as the witch hunt, while 
            Xiwangmu [Character No Conversion], his female counterpart who was 
            originally a maneating tigress, is now remembered as the generous 
            Queen Mother of the West and bestower of immortality.(14) Monkey and 
            the White Ape parted company at this point. Monkey could easily have 
            been a womanizer too-he is, after all, much sought after as a mate 
            by the female demons who prey on the pilgrims in journey. It is just 
            that whereas the gullible Pigsy is still driven by lust, the wiser 
            Monkey chooses to remain chaste. He thus does what Diana, goddess of 
            the hunt and lady of the forest, did in Greece. Diane bathing in her 
            pool was as naked and nubile as Venus rising fresh from the sea, but 
            she chose to be a manly huntress, an eternal virgin. Monkey too 
            chooses to remain a preadolescent imp and thereby avoids the 
            skirt-chasing career of the White Ape, Playboy of the West (i.e., of 
            the western hills). 
            The ascetic Siva and the erotic Siva are not viewed as separate - 
            there is only one Siva with two aspects.(15) So too, Monkey and the 
            White Ape appear to be opposite only if we dwell on their surface 
            differences. Satan was a seducer and a rebel angel, and for that he 
            came to a well-deserved end. Monkey was a rebel but not a seducer, 
            and for that he remained redeemable. To see how his puerile chastity 
            made him eligible to become a defender of the faith, it is not 
            enough to consider Jungian archetypes - we must examine the history 
            of religions. 
            Part 2: From Titan to Saint 
            In the succession of religions, there are only so many ways the old 
            gods can end up. They can fade away, in which case they are lost to 
            us for good; they can be held up to scorn as pagan demons who 
            persisted in their old, evil ways; or they can be recruited into the 
            new faith as its servants and defenders. Monkey followed the last 
            pattern. He was an old Titan, once chained and damned, who was 
            somehow freed and made to serve the Buddha and his messenger, 
            This pattern of subjugation and conversion had already occurred 
            during the rise of Buddhism in India with the Vedic gods and demons 
            (the deva and the asura). Indra, the storm god of the warriors, 
            became Sakra, who piously requested teachings from the Buddha. 
            Brahman, the creator god, turned into a defender of the Law. Lesser 
            deities too resurfaced in new roles. The nymph-like yaksi came to 
            decorate the gates of the stupas at Sanchi, and heavenly nymphs 
            became angelic musicians, scattering flowers in the air (they 
            remained scantily dressed, as fertility deities should). Satyr-like 
            yaksas ran errands for Yama, the old moon god who now supervised the 
            Buddhist hells, and so on. Their fate is not unlike that of the gods 
            of Old Europe. Those who did not fade away ended up either as 
            denizens of hell or as saints in the Christian calendar. 
            The same pattern is observable as Buddhism spread into China. Old 
            Chinese gods and demiurges were recruited into the burgeoning 
            Sinitic Mahayana pantheon, and in the process a form of hierarchy 
            among them emerged. We see one pecking order of these native gods in 
            Monkey, most clearly in the way Monkey is captured. Earlier, Erlang 
            would have single-handedly captured Monkey, much as Sage-king Yu did 
            his Hydra. In Monkey, however, Erlang takes his orders from the Jade 
            Emperor, who has headed the Taoist pantheon since the Sung. In the 
            process, Erlang, instead of lassoing Monkey himself, now defers to 
            Laozi, who does the actual lassoing. 
            Laozi, a hermit sage who moved outside the theocratic order, was not 
            an official subordinated to the Jade Emperor. If anything, he was a 
            Pure One, one of a trio that oversaw everything below the realm of 
            his Grotto Heaven. In the novel, he is a freelance "ghost-buster" 
            brought in especially for the occasion. Were this a purely Taoist 
            novel, that would have been the end of it: Laozi would have been 
            powerful enough to cook Monkey alive in his alchemic caldron, and 
            the Jade Emperor would have thanked the Old Boy for his effortless 
            effort. But this is now a Buddhist, not just a Taoist, tale. Thus 
            Monkey has to prove too powerful a demon for even Laozi, whose 
            Taoist exorcism falls (it also falls in the Buddhist rewrite of 
            Madame White Snake - the shedemon outwits a Taoist exorcist, proves 
            too powerful for a Buddhist monk, and is only subdued when Guanyin 
            [Character No Conversion], the Mahayana goddess of mercy, steps in). 
            Monkey not only escapes Laozi's caldron unscathed, he actually 
            becomes a better immortal for it. The mightier Buddha finally has to 
            step in to finish the job. This is how Monkey ends. In journey, 
            however, this was deemed incomplete: the Buddha with his cosmic 
            power had more Hinayinist wisdom than Mahayanist compassion. So in 
            the sequel, Guanyin is called in to tame Monkey and bring him into 
            the fold of the One Vehicle. 
            Monkey's conversion here only replicates the earlier conversion of 
            the Four Heavenly Kings and anticipates more of the same. The 
            Heavenly Kings were the Vedic Atlases, holding up the four corners 
            of the heavens. Like Siva and Durga or Apollo and Mithra, they were 
            demoncrushers, their icons depicting them stepping on and subduing 
            these chthonic beings; once converted, the Heavenly Kings trampled 
            down the Buddha's earthly enemies. In the novel they help subdue 
            Monkey. Nata (Natha), the first-born of the first Heavenly King, 
            battles Monkey and proves to be his equal, but cannot defeat him. It 
            is at this point that Erlang, Monkey's old nemesis with a proven 
            record of effectiveness, is called in to do the job (in this case, a 
            Buddhist figure defers to a native folk hero, and, for a change, the 
            pecking order favors the latter). 
            Following his conversion in journey, Monkey repeats this drama, 
            becoming himself a Nata who, in the name of the Buddhist Law, fights 
            off other pagan demons all the way from China to India. The demons 
            seek to harm the pilgrims, but in the standard warfare of one-to-one 
            combat Monkey either smashes the unrepenting head demon, converts it 
            to observance of Buddhist ahimsa (!), or brings the vanquished being 
            into the Buddhist faith, at which point the demon's underlings 
            convert en masse. These new converts then repeat Monkey's career, 
            vowing to defend the Dharma against other demons. Such is the 
            never-ending tale of the triumphant spread of the gospel, whether 
            Buddhist or Christian. 
            It is in this larger context of a missiological myth that the 
            transformation of Monkey from imp to pilgrim should be read. The 
            change is not unreasonable, so that Dudbridge's search for 
            precedents in tales of pious monkeys and of animal troupes under 
            Mulian is not entirely necessary. These tales are not irrelevant, 
            but they are less relevant than what White has unearthed in his 
            study, Myths of the Dog-Man (1991). It is not possible to relate all 
            of White's encyclopedic findings here, but what he basically shows 
            is that all civilizations at some point consider the barbarians 
            living outside their borders to be less than human. Often these 
            people are imagined to be half-animal, i.e., Dog-Men. For being so 
            "totally Other," they both attract and repel. The same attitudes 
            apply to their societies, which are viewed as either utopian or 
            barbaric. To these subhumans, much as to the minorities within our 
            midst, are attributed both savagery and romance. Like blacks in 
            White America, they can be either glorified as "noble savages" or 
            charged with an exaggerated sexual prowess that leads them, as rumor 
            would have it, to "rape our women" (White 1991, 1-10). Their society 
            being deemed lawless by the standards of the civilized critics, they 
            are at once demons to be killed, animals to be enslaved, or pagans 
            waiting to be converted. What concerns us is the last option, which 
            has given rise to myths about the Dog-Man becoming the Christian 
            missionary's vanguard. 
            The story is told, over and over again, that as the early 
            evangelists ventured into the unknown spreading the gospel, they 
            intruded deeper and deeper into the "forest." To help prepare the 
            way, God or the angels would prepare the way for them by appearing 
            selectively to certain aliens and readying them for their eventual 
            discipleship under the missionaries. These then became the first 
            converts, guides, and protectors of the faithful. A number of such 
            enculturated aliens qua native missionaries have been recorded. The 
            most outstanding example of a jungle-beast-turned-saint is Saint 
            Christopher (nowadays the patron saint of travelers), originally a 
            barbarian represented as a Dog-Man (halfdog, half-man; a man with a 
            canine head). Monkey is no dog but he comes close enough. This 
            simian is the Ape-Man, Tarzan, and (as my students in class pointed 
            out to me) a venerable King Kong. He is the Buddhist St. 
            The careers of St. Christopher and of Monkey are in this sense 
            comparable. The history of China's perception of alien races 
            parallels that which White traces for the West. Classical China too 
            knew the distinction between city and village; Confucius, for 
            example, lived and worked in the city - that is, among civilized men 
            (the gentlemen) - and would have little to do with the inferior men 
            who inhabited the villages. Like Socrates, he was more concerned 
            with humans than animals: when a stable burnt down, he inquired 
            about the people present, not about the horses. Beyond the Chinese 
            villages lay the barbaric horde, nomads on horseback. They were 
            worse than the peasants and only slightly better than the wild 
            animals. Classical China recognized two rings of such barbarians 
            living in the four directions beyond China proper. The inner ring 
            was semicivilized, and could become Chinese. The outer ring was 
            truly barbaric. 
            This outer ring consisted of a race of men with names the characters 
            for which all contained the dog radical. They were subhuman, 
            half-animal beings who were little romanticized about until the Han, 
            when, as in the contemporary Roman Empire, a new cosmopolitanism 
            began to change that perception. Although the negative image of the 
            uncouth barbarian persisted, there was in Han China also a new 
            fascination with the exotic places that lay outside the Han 
            imperium, faraway lands beyond the double rings of barbarians. East 
            and west held the promise of being the land of the immortals. China 
            was drawn to reports of the fantastic and monstrous, as Rome was 
            with similar "monstrations" (monere) - both saw them as warnings 
            (monare) from above, or as "omens and auspices" sent by Heaven 
            (White 1991, 1). In Han China, these became the mythic lands of the 
            Shanhaijing [Character No Conversion] [Classic of mountains and 
            Hills and streams - chaos by another name - were regularly the 
            domiciles of monstrous beasts and protean dragons. As danger was 
            found there, so might be paradisiacal lands and alternate social 
            orders. Europe had its share of such mythic kingdoms. One such 
            remote kingdom that supposedly harbored a race of Dog-Men has 
            survived on our maps as the Canary Islands off the western coast of 
            Africa. In China, there were the Land of the Gentlemen to the east 
            and the Kingdom of the One-Legged Giants to the west. The 
            intentional exaggeration of social traits and anatomical features 
            helped sharpen distinctions, and was one way to better classify 
            categorical realities. It also served to highlight alternative 
            life-styles by holding them up like a mirror to ordinary reality. 
            What would correspond to the myth of the Canary Islands in the 
            western sea would be the isles of the immortals off the eastward 
            coast of China. Monkey, our Dog-Man in ape's clothing, was king over 
            one of these paradisiacal isles in the Eastern Sea. His Flower-Fruit 
            Mountain was an Eden regained, with blossoms that never faded and 
            fruits forever in season. The mountain itself was a clone of Tai 
            Shan [Character No Conversion], China's world mountain. It was the 
            conduit between Heaven and Earth, and housed the chambers of Hell 
            below. Since the mountain touched Heaven, Monkey claimed for himself 
            the same status, calling himself "The Great Sage on a par with 
            Heaven." His regime was, by the standards of the Confucian Heaven, 
            lawless. Monkey ruled with proverbial Taoist wuwei[Character No 
            Conversion] - laissez-faire, non-action, or non-ado. His island's 
            celebration of natural anarchy was bound to clash with Confucian 
            order and upset the hierarchy of Name and Rank in the court of the 
            jade Emperor. And this trickster did turn the world of the jade 
            Emperor upside down, much to the delight of any Taoist reader of 
            this text. 
            In time, though, Monkey turned from Titan to Saint. As a Titan he 
            was crushed "between a rock and a hard place"; as a prospective 
            saint he was released by Guanyin to become a protector of the 
            Buddhist pilgrim Tripitaka. We scholars may think of Monkey as 
            nothing more than a literary creation, but the common folk of China 
            know better. To us, a text is just a text, but to them journey is 
            more than fable: it tells of reality. The Sage Equal to Heaven is a 
            living reality, as real as St. Christopher is to an old-time 
            Catholic. As St. Christopher still protects travelers, Monkey still 
            answers prayers. Monkey has his own temple; he was worshipped and 
            prayed to as a god by the history-making rebels of the Boxer 
            Rebellion. This Great Sage is still present to those who have eyes 
            to see and ears to hear. We will return to this issue of his ancient 
            reality in the final section of this essay. Let us now turn to his 
            enlightened career. 
            Part 3: A Monkey of a Sixth Patriarch 
            There is a famous Zen koan (meditation problem) that is relevant to 
            our discussion of Monkey: 
            Do dogs have Buddha-nature? 
            This koan is the first in the Zen collection known as the Wumenguan 
            [Character No Conversion] [Conversion No Conversion] (Jap. Mumonkan 
            [Gateless gate]). I used to see it as extending Buddhahood beyond 
            the realm of the human mind, where the anthropocentric position of 
            Hongzhou Zen [Character No Conversion] had restricted it. Now 
            White's study on the Dog-Man (1991) puts a new twist to it, for it 
            is possible that the word "dog" did not refer to animals but to 
            "subhuman" barbarians. If so, the question raised is whether 
            non-Chinese are also capable of enlightenment. Can barbarians be Zen 
            The question is not as silly as it may seem, because in South China 
            the Yao and Man tribes actually did trace their ancestry back to a 
            Dog Prince - southern barbarians were, in a certain sense, "dogs." 
            And in Zen history the question of whether such "dogs" possess 
            Buddha-nature had indeed been raised, in no less a text than the 
            Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. The story is that Huineng 
            [Character No Conversion] (613-713), a boy from the South and the 
            future Sixth Patriarch, was out gathering firewood one day when he 
            chanced to hear someone chanting the Diamond Sutra. Awakened on the 
            spot, he asked the cantor about it and was told that he could learn 
            its truth more directly from Hongren [Character No Conversion] 
            (601-74), the reigning Fifth Patriarch. Journeying north to see 
            Hongren, Huineng was asked upon his arrival from whence he came. 
            Upon hearing the boy's place of origin, Hongren wondered aloud 
            whether a southern barbarian could ever hope to be enlightened. 
            That set the stage for Huineng's famous rejoinder. He supposedly 
            said, "In terms of place of origin, men may indeed be of North or of 
            South. But as to their possessing Buddha-nature, no such division 
            exists."(16) Hongren recognized the boy's innate wisdom, but 
            nevertheless sent him out to do menial work as a laborer in the 
            monastic compound. Later, when Hongren was seeking a Dharma heir, 
            Shenxiu [Character No Conversion] 605? - 706), his leading disciple, 
            composed a verse that said: 
            The body is the bodhi tree, 
            The mind is a mirror bright. 
            Daily and with diligence wipe it 
            Let no dust upon it adhere. 
            When told of this, Huineng composed a rejoinder that proved he was 
            the better of the two: 
            Originally there is no tree of Bodhi 
            Nor a mirror with a stand. 
            From the beginning nothing exists, 
            Where can dust adhere? 
            Seeing this poem, Hongren sent for Huineng and transmitted the 
            Dharma and the patriarchal robe to him. This he supposedly did in 
            secret, at midnight. He thereupon told Huineng to go back south for 
            his own safety. This story was well known by the Sung era, and 
            whoever compiled Journey must have known of it. 
            What concerns us is this: when read more closely, it will be noted 
            that when Hongren characterized Huineng as a "barbarian" from the 
            South, the Chinese word rendered in English as "barbarian" is 
            actually the word for a species of monkey. That is because the 
            civilized northern Chinese viewed the southerners as dogs, or, in 
            this case, as monkeys (a near synonym). So in this exchange between 
            Hongren and Huineng, the question was, to wit: 
            Can a southern barbarian, or "monkey," have Buddha-nature? 
            (The answer was) Yes. 
            In a sense, this exchange anticipated the Zen koan about whether 
            dogs - another nickname for southern barbarians - have 
            Buddha-nature. The answer to this latter question might be "No," but 
            that No might be a comment on the questioner's presumption: there is 
            no North versus South, no Man versus Dog/Monkey, as far as 
            Buddha-nature is concerned. 
            The Platform Sutra is significant here because there is a real 
            possibility that, if Huineng was an enlightened "southern monkey," 
            Monkey could well have been intended as an enlightened Huineng. That 
            is to say, the whole narrative about Monkey's initial enlightenment 
            under the patriarch Subodhi might have been consciously modeled on 
            the enlightenment of Huineng under Hongren. Since the episode of 
            Monkey's apprenticeship under Subodhi - a Taoist master who taught 
            Monkey the power of transformation and the magic of immortality - is 
            not found in the folklore of either the White Ape or the Sage Equal 
            to Heaven, it is possibly the work of its final compiler, who, as 
            mentioned above, was quite likely familiar with the Platform Sutra. 
            The episode is pivotal because it did much to humanize this simian: 
            Monkey became more human as he beat out the human disciples of 
            Subodhi in acquiring the Dharma from his master. This demiurge 
            acquired his powers not by birth but, in the old-fashioned way, by 
            earning them. We love him more for this. 
            The name of his master, Subodhi, is clearly a take-off on that of 
            Subhuti, the guardian of the Mahayana wisdom mentioned in the 
            Diamond Sutra. Since this scripture taught sunyata (emptiness), it 
            is fitting that Monkey should awaken to his identity as Sun Wukong, 
            Monkey Awakened to Emptiness. And just as Huineng stole the Dharma 
            from the northern master Shenxiu, his cultural superior, so Monkey 
            stole the transmission from his superiors, the human disciples of 
            Subodhi. Zen purists may point out that Monkey comes in a poor 
            second compared with Huineng, and his enlightenment is indeed a 
            humorous parody. This parody, though, is not without its share of 
            Zen wit. We are dealing with "folk Zen,"(17) but then even classic 
            Zen was, almost from the start, indebted to such folk wisdom. The 
            popular text of the Platform Sutra itself took over much folksy 
            material that had found its way into 
            the Baolin zhuan    (801).(18)
            Not everything in Monkey's journey to enlightenment is modeled after 
            Huineng's. Monkey's journey to find Subodhi is rather unique - and 
            peculiar. Monkey goes from east of China (the Eastern Continent) to 
            the Western Continent (where Subodhi lived) by first stopping over 
            in the Southern Continent (i.e., India). This somehow involves 
            mixing the Chinese cosmography of the Nine Continents (nine boxes in 
            a 3 x 3 square) with the Indian Sumeru cosmography (based on a 
            cross-and-circle pattern). Try as I might to come up with a 
            reasonable package of the two, I cannot see how Monkey could have 
            made the journey the way he did. The text has Monkey traveling 
            northwestward by boat from his Aolai Island east of China and 
            landing on the northwestern coast of the Southern Continent. Finding 
            India too hot and the people too gross with passion, Monkey 
            transverses that land, crosses another ocean, and arrives on the 
            Western Continent. But there is no way a northwestward journey from 
            east of China could ever end up in a southwestward India. The only 
            explanation I can come up with is that for some reason the compiler 
            of Monkey reversed the route taken by the Indian Monkey King 
            Hanuman, who crossed from the southeastern tip of India to 
            southeastward Sri Lanka. 
            Once Monkey arrives on the Western Continent, his story more closely 
            parallels that of Huineng. Soon after arriving he encounters a 
            woodcutter; Huineng was either a woodcutter himself or met such a 
            hidden sage. The woodcutter that Monkey meets sings the secrets of 
            the Taoist Yellow Court Classic, a text that is to Taoism what the 
            Diamond Sutra is to Buddhism. Huineng was awakened by the latter 
            text and thereby led to Hongren; Monkey is awakened too but makes a 
            comic fool of himself by worshipping the woodcutter, mistaking him 
            for an enlightened master. The woodcutter hastily refuses the homage 
            and sends Monkey to Subodhi. At their initial meeting, Subodhi 
            doubts Monkey's worthiness as a student, as Hongren did Huineng's. 
            Subodhi thinks Monkey is a liar, for, he believes, no one could 
            possibly have made the long journey from Aolai. Finding out that 
            Monkey in fact did make the trip, Subodhi asks his surname. The word 
            for surname is 
            xing   in Chinese, but this word can also denote "temperament" in
          general or "nature," as in "Buddha-nature" (fo-xing   ). Monkey
            thought the question concerned his (monkey) nature or temperament, 
            so he answered: 
            I have no xing. If a man rebukes me, I am not offended; if he hits 
            me, I am not angered. In fact, I just repay him with a ceremonial 
            greeting and that's all. My whole life is without ill temper. (Yu 
            1977, 81) 
            Yu takes the word xing in the last line to denote "(ill) temper." 
            The lack of xing then means that Monkey had no ill temper - even 
            when abused, he just played dumb. Philologically, Yu's translation 
            is correct. But his very polish obscures a fine point about Monkey's 
            claim to having fo-xing, or Buddha-nature. Waley's translation is 
            less polished but his colloquial rendition better captures this 
            "folk Zen" flavor: 
            I never show xing. If I am abused, I am not at all annoyed. If 
            I am hit, I am not angry; but on the contrary, twice more polite 
            than before. All my life, I have never shown xing. (Waley 1943, 
            Monkey had never "shown xing." In colloquial Chinese, this means 
            shengxing    which connotes the acquisition by man (not by monkeys)
            of normative, social behavior. 
            Since Monkey had misunderstood the question, the Patriarch hastens 
            to correct him - he was, he says, inquiring about Monkey's surname, 
            not about his (dumb monkey) nature. Once more, Waley's folksy 
            translation better captures the tone of the original: 
            "I have no family," said Monkey, "neither father nor mother." 
            "Oh indeed," said the Patriarch. "Perhaps you grew on a tree!" 
            "Not exactly," said Monkey, "I came out of a stone." (Waley 
            1943, 19) 
            It is upon learning of Monkey's extraordinary birth that Subodhi 
            recognizes Monkey for his worth. This is a cosmogonic being, one 
            born of chaos and nursed by Heaven and Earth. 
            This initial exchange may seem merely humorous: Monkey's initial 
            answer ("I have no xing") was due to a misunderstanding; his amended 
            answer ("I have no name") seems a non sequitur. But actually there 
            is much Zen wisdom in this. In Zen (as in Taoism), the values of the 
            world are often turned upside down and the wise often 
            appear foolish (thus D. T. Suzuki was named Daisetsu   , "great
            fool"). Monkey's first answer makes him seem a nitwit - that monkey 
            of a description of himself is his being himself. But when he 
            further clarifies the situation with his second answer, he truly 
            shows his "naturalness." He is, to use an American expression that 
            the Taoists would applaud, "a natural." This child of nature is as 
            nameless as nature itself. 
            Names came with culture; they are what man (Adam) labeled things 
            with. But before men so named things, there was the Tao, and that 
            Tao was Nameless. Laozi characterized it as the "uncarved block." 
            Monkey was born of that uncarved boulder. This offspring of the Tao 
            had no human name, nor had he a human nature. People get angry when 
            insulted because they have a sense of right and wrong and possess a 
            sense of pride. So, as Mencius noted, even a hungry beggar would 
            rather starve than eat a bowl of rice kicked across the floor to him 
            by a spiteful donor. Only dogs take whatever food is given them, and 
            only monkeys are doubly eager to please when they are made fools of. 
            Yet by not being civilized in the ways of men, Monkey kept intact 
            what Zen calls his "original face (the face of nature) before he was 
            born." Monkey 
            was tianran   , spontaneous like heaven.
          In the Hongzhou Zen of Maxu Daoyi     (709-88), to be natural
            is to be one with the Way. This school gave us the Baolin zhuan, 
            which incorporated folk wisdom as Zen wisdom. It also rewrote the 
            so-called Transmission Verses, poems supposedly composed by the Zen 
            patriarchs to mark the transmission of the teaching. The original 
            Transmission Verses in the Platform Sutra tell of Bodhidharma coming 
            to China "to sow the seed of enlightenment" so that five generations 
            later, the seed would bear an upright, five-petaled flower in 
            Huineng. The patriarchs in between supplied the conditions necessary 
            for this blossoming: they provided the soil, the warmth, the 
            moisture, and the care that brought the seed to flower. 
            The Baolin zhuan redacted these verses and one of its lines well 
            describes Monkey himself. By dropping all reference to the old 
            "seed-conditions-fruit" (i.e., causative analysis), it glorified 
            Buddhahood as a natural given. There is no need to wait for the seed 
            of wisdom to bloom. Why? Because ultimately there is neither xing 
            (nature to nurture) 
            nor sheng   (seed to germinate). Buddha-nature is wuxing yi
          wusheng        (neither innate nor nursed). That describes Monkey,
            who had "no nature to show." This nameless orphan is somehow the 
            Unborn (a pun on anupatti-dharmaksanti). He is sunyata itself.(19) 
            Monkey acts the fool but is no fool. This becomes evident soon 
            enough. Made to work in the garden, as Huineng was, Monkey sees the 
            truth one day when, standing at the back of the hall, he hears the 
            Patriarch lecture. Monkey scratches his ears, rubs his jaw, and 
            grins from ear to ear, antics that remind us of a disciple of Mazu 
            who, after Mazu kicked him into enlightenment near the water, was 
            unable to stop laughing. And indeed Monkey, enlightened by the 
            lecture, is soon dancing on all fours, to the amazement of the 
            unenlightened lot. Later Monkey steals to the Patriarch's room at 
            midnight and receives the secret transmission. But because he shows 
            off his talent too publicly - he turns himself into a pine tree (a 
            symbol of immortality) to entertain his fellows - Monkey too is sent 
            homeward by the Patriarch, as Huineng was by Hongren. Read side by 
            side, the stories of Huineng and Monkey run a remarkably similar 
            But the two lives soon diverge. Upon his return home, Monkey uses 
            his newly acquired powers to eliminate the demon who took over his 
            kingdom in his absence. He then coerces the Dragon King into giving 
            him the Wish-Granting Rod for a weapon. Soon afterwards he deletes 
            names from the register of death in hell, and later, steals the 
            peaches of immortality from the garden of the Queen Mother of the 
            West. Puffed up by pride and egged on by the small monkeys, Monkey 
            declares himself "Equal to Heaven." Demanding his rightful place in 
            the sky, Monkey gets himself an official post. He happily strolls 
            about Heaven, a Taoist natural whose Confucian gown wears badly on 
            him. Though still a good-tempered fellow, he is not always 
            courteous, since he never quite learned the decorum of civilized 
            men. He then blows his top when he discovers that the Jade Emperor 
            has hoodwinked him with the empty title of "Royal Stable Hand." In 
            his rage, Monkey nearly brings Heaven down. 
            Although he is never malicious - this is his redeeming trait - we 
            still have to wonder: What happened to his good nature, his claim to 
            being never "annoyed even when provoked" nor "angry when struck"? 
            Something is amiss - his awakening to sunyata under Subodhi was 
            somehow incomplete. He needs a second journey to the West to truly 
            find himself. Somewhere in this likable imp lurks a demon with a 
            deep-seated grievance against Heaven. It appears that before Monkey 
            can turn from Titan to Saint, he has first to take on Heaven. 
            The Titans were Greek Chthonians who were pushed out of Mt. Olympus, 
            attempted a last revolt against Zeus and company, lost, and were 
            banished forever to the lower regions of land and water. Legacies of 
            the Mycenaean era, they survived as Medusas and Cyclopes. The latter 
            herded sheep on outlandish islands, still refusing to bow to the 
            rule of Zeus or heed Odysseus's request for basic (Zeus-sanctioned) 
            However, this type of Titanic revolt was rarely postulated in China. 
            It is true that the Shang   dynasty (c. 1500-100 B.C.E.) worshipped a sky
          god, while the prehistoric Xia   dynasty that preceded it worshipped
            dragons, snakes, and tortoises, and that these Xia gods were 
            apparently demoted to the lower, watery regions during the rise of 
            the Shang 
            "high ancestor" called Shangdi   , the Lord on High. And just as
            Zeus fathered the noble houses of Greece, Shangdi fathered the royal 
            lineages of Shang and Zhou. Both did so by mating with a female 
            ancestress (one of Shangdi's mates swallowed the egg of the 
            sun-bird, while the other stepped on a giant bird's footprint). The 
            Chthonians of Xia that preceded Shangdi and the kings of Shang and 
            Zhou he fathered usually replicated themselves autochthonically, 
            much as old Kronos and Uranus did. 
            Monkey is rock-born and thus of this autochthonic species. His 
            birth is similar to that of Pangu   , the "Coiled Ancient"(20) or the
            giant who burst from a world egg. Pangu pushed one half of the egg 
            up and the other half down, and they became heaven and earth. Monkey 
            was Pangu reborn; heaven and earth nursed him. He also came out with 
            all his faculties complete, in the manner of the Buddha (like the 
            baby Buddha, Monkey also claimed that there was no one equal to him 
            on earth). 
            Though heroes are deserving of such cosmogonic births, the last 
            figure in Chinese history reputed to have been born from a rock was 
            Qi , son of Sage-King Yu and the true founder of the Xia dynasty 
            (which, as mentioned above, once worshipped the Chthonians). Qi's 
            birth from a rock resulted from the disobedience of Yu's wife. Yu 
            had ordered her not to intrude upon him during his Herculean labor 
            of stemming the Flood. When she did, she saw Yu in his animal form - 
            a three-legged tortoise - and fled in fear, turning herself to stone 
            when Yu gave chase. Yu demanded his son. The pregnant stone burst 
            and Qi (meaning "beginning," "dawn," or "first light") was born. 
            This episode has been interpreted variously as a female breaking the 
            taboo of a male initiation rite or as a lunar myth involving death 
            and rebirth, but the core is nevertheless about an autochthonic 
            birth. Earth, as Mother, swallowed her sons only to give birth to 
            them anew at the beginning of the new year. All Xia rulers were born 
            in this way: Yu himself was born of Gun, who was also able to change 
            himself into the mythic three-legged turtle. A turtle in its wintry 
            hibernation is an inanimate rock. In spring the turtle (Gun) is 
            believed to give birth to the dragon (Yu). A turtle intertwined with 
            a snake is still a Chinese symbol of life and death - it is the Dark 
            Warrior of winter conjoined to the Green Dragon of spring.(21) 
            The Greek Chthonians recycled themselves between Kronos and Uranus. 
            Zeus put an end to that by killing his father Uranus; then, by his 
            many amorous affairs, he initiated the Age of Men. In China the Xia 
            gods also recycled themselves until the sky god, Shangdi, put an end 
            to that by fathering the house of Shang. Subsequent to this we do 
            not hear of stone-born kings until we come to the fabled birth of 
            Monkey, who ruled his island outside China proper much as the 
            Cyclopes did. Monkey presumably could have ruled there forever had 
            he not decided to take on Heaven; in that sense, his act constitutes 
            a belated Titanic revolt. We will offer further evidence for the 
            existence of a conflict between sky gods and earth deities in the 
            Appendix; to introduce this material here would lead us too far 
            afield. Meanwhile we will pick up the story from where we left off, 
            namely with the Stone Monkey's running amok in the citadel of 
            Part 4: The Prehistoric Face, of Monkey 
            Having wrought havoc in heaven, Monkey storms out and, with regal 
            spite, returns home. The Jade Emperor calls on all the help he can 
            summon in order to make Monkey pay for his unforgivable 
            transgressions, but Monkey is able to fight off his attackers until 
            Erlang, his old nemesis, joins the fray. Erlang can match, one by 
            one, Monkey's seventy-two transformations of the Earthly Multitude. 
            Protean strength is thus pitted against Protean strength. It is a 
            no-win situation for Monkey, so, during a breather between bouts, he 
            takes flight. After a number of changes, Monkey tries one final 
            masquerade in an attempt to trap Erlang. 
            Rolling down the mountain slope, he squatted there and changed into 
            a little temple for the local spirit. His wide-open mouth became the 
            entrance, his teeth the doors, his tongue the Bodhisattva, and his 
            eyes the windows. Only his tail he found to be troublesome, so he 
            stuck it up in the back and changed it into a flagpole. (Waley 1943, 
            If Erlang walks in the temple door, Monkey can swallow him alive. 
            But the flagpole gives Monkey away - Erlang has seen many a temple 
            before, but never one with a flagpole sticking up at the back. 
            Seeing through Monkey's disguise, he vows to "smash down the windows 
            and kick in the doors." Fearful of having his eyes blinded and his 
            teeth knocked out, Monkey escapes just in time. 
            This episode allows us to see the original face of this little 
            monster. The flagpole tail, the gateway mouth - these give away more 
            than even Erlang knows. They put Monkey back in time, back into the 
            company of some very ancient Chinese deities. We will begin with the 
            tail because it makes an infamous appearance in European mythology 
            also, being the telltale trait that the Devil, Satan, shares with 
            the little devil Monkey. In medieval Europe, exorcists could reveal 
            the Devil for what he was by exposing his tail. This tail is one of 
            the traits that the Devil inherited from certain of the early 
            Chthonians (such as his cloven hooves, also shared by the satyrs of 
            old). The Devil's serpentine tail goes back to the snake in the 
            Garden of Eden, while the Devil's trident goes back to Neptune. The 
            trident, an ancient symbol of power (de) and of the "coincidence of 
            opposites," is associated with Poseidon, brother of Zeus and a Titan 
            who rode the waves on a sea serpent (dragon), trident in hand. This 
            pre-Olympian deity left his mark (three holes) at Delphi where his 
            trident once struck, long before Apollo claimed Delphi as his own. 
            Monkey's flagpole of a tail not only gives him away, it also ties 
            him to an ancient species of Chinese Chthonian. Sky gods like Zeus 
            or Shangdi, as the reputed ancestors of man, are naturally 
            anthropomorphic, while the earlier Chthonians, being prehuman, are 
            naturally zoomorphic. The prehistoric Xia dynasty knew these 
            demiurges of theirs as "snakes, turtles, and dragons": Yu was a 
            dragon; his father Gun was a turtle; and his son Qi, born from a 
            rock (an inanimate turtle shell), still had tiny green dragons 
            dangling from his ears. Nowadays we might not believe that we 
            descend from such watery animals - Darwin has taught us to look to 
            the ape as our ancestor instead. But even so, mankind won its 
            distinction from the simian lot by losing fully and finally the 
            monkey's tail. To have or to grow a tail is to regress to this 
            prehuman form. 
            Fish, snake, dragon, and turtle all share the common trait of a 
            tail. Three of these creatures are still represented in modern 
            Chinese calligraphy as having tails turned upward towards the 
            sky.(22) Here are the characters (note the rising end of the lower 
            right-hand lines): 
              snake    turtle   ,    dragon  ,
            In Shang and Zhou ritual bronzes, the serpentine tail coils itself 
            counterclockwise. Like circular animal bands found on other ancient 
            artifacts from other early cultures, the counterclockwise movement 
            symbolizes the path of the moon. (The clockwise path is solar; the 
            popular yin-yang circle still follows the lunar path.) In Chinese 
            myth, that up-turned tail is associated with a chthonic defiance of 
            Heaven. This is indicated in a number of fragments of ancient myths: 
            -the tortoise Gun, who stole the magical earth from Heaven, dragged 
            its tail behind it; 
            - Wei-tuo, the marsh spirit, stood tall like a chariot's mast (see 
            - Cripple Shu, a Turtle-Woman in Zhuangzi 5, wears a pigtail 
            pointing upwards; 
            - Monkey pokes a hole in heaven with his magical rod and sticks his 
            flagpole tail up with similar insolence. 
            In a future article, I will explain how this tail goes back to the 
            myth of the famous "one-legged Qui" (Yizhu Qui ). Morohashi's 
            Daikanwa jiten offers a Ming-Qing picturesque rendition of Qui as a 
            cow standing on one hind leg. This, however, is silly. What "one 
            leg" originally indicated was simply seminal life, wiggling germ, 
            incipient motion. One-legged Qui is the Ur-Being of all beings, 
            taking, on land, the form of a land animal (thus the cow); in water, 
            that of a sea creature (thus the snake-fish); and in the air, that 
            of the one-legged Qui phoenix. This is the Great One, Laozi's mystic 
            female, and the mother of all things.(23) The one-legged often walks 
            with a limp: it is incipient movement seeking mature mobility. Since 
            anything primeval should be one-legged, Fuxi and Nugua, China's 
            first divine couple, are regularly given intertwining, serpentine 
            tails in ancient tomb carvings (see the earlier discussion on the 
            gao-long). Nor is the myth of the One-Legged unique to China: in the 
            West, we know this seminal human in the person of Oedipus, the 
            "swollen-legged," son of Laius, the "lame" (in the Bible, Jacob, 
            after wrestling with the angel, also walked with a limp). In China 
            the same father-son Laius-Oedipus relationship is found between Yu 
            and Gun. Yu was the dragon who danced on one leg; his father Gun was 
            the mythic three-legged turtle. 
            The meaning of the myth of the sacred cripple is too complex to 
            unravel here. Suffice it to note that with the rise of the 
            anthropomorphic sky gods, the cripple, once prized, was deemed to be 
            - in Biblical terms - an abomination to the Lord. But in older, 
            chthonic cults, to be incomplete was to be on the way to completion. 
            As with the moon that waxes and wanes, a crippled being is a potent 
            being. It is Becoming itself. What is now remembered of the Titans - 
            that they were "deformed" and "monstrous" - was perceived 
            differently in their own time. They were not Beast, but Beauty 
            Like the single tail or the single leg, the single horn ("unicorn") 
            carried the power of beauty and seminal life. This is the reason 
            why, in my earlier discussion of Li Bing, I prefer to see him as a 
            rhino instead of a cow or a water buffalo, even though the word 
            refers to all three (and actually the Chinese rhino is 
            double-horned, with a full front horn and a stubby secondary one). 
            The rhino's horn is potent: it connotes seminal life and is highly 
            prized as an aphrodisiac (like the deer antler). The Chinese still 
            kill the animal to procure this horn. Furthermore, the rhino is 
            armored like the turtle and is likewise amphibious - a desirable 
            trait for China's liminal (draconic, transformative) species. Rhinos 
            once roamed central China; they were known to the Shang, and can be 
            seen in a beautiful Shang ritual goblet sculptured in the 
            naturalistic shape of a rhino at the Palace Museum in Taipei. 
            When Monkey stuck up his tail as a flagpole, it both gave away his 
            chthonic identity and belied his Titanic insolence. But Monkey's 
            mouth, masquerading as the door of the shrine, is iconographically 
            just as telling. Hoping to eat Erlang alive, Monkey turned his mouth 
            into the "portal of death." But "portal of death" is the namesake of 
            his totemic cousin, Ximen Bao, the Leopard of the Western Gate. The 
            West, where the sun sets, is the gateway to death and paradise; the 
            Dog of Hades stands guard there. In China, the role went to the 
            leopard. Since food offered to the dead had to go through this 
            gateway (i.e., this animal's mouth), the Shang used to roast meat 
            over a bronze tripod decorated with the dautie , an animal mask made 
            up of two leopards in profile facing one another. As a single, 
            frontal, animal mask, it is a picture of half a gaping mouth topped 
            by an angry-looking upper face: Known in this form as the monster 
            Insatiable, it is believed to devour everything, including itself. 
            The name, however, reflects a Confucian judgment of this Shang 
            glutton's demand for endless sacrifice. In truth, the dautie is just 
            another persona of the gao-long, the snake that bites or swallows 
            its own tail. It is an alias of the Great Mother, Kronos, Uranus, 
            the Dark Warrior, the Sphinx, and the Queen Mother of the West (in 
            her most primitive tigress form). 
            Thus when Monkey turns his mouth into the door of a shrine and the 
            "portal of death" to swallow Erlang, he is again regressing to his 
            primeval form. Monkey is the dautie, the mask of a Xia god, 
            condemned since the Zhou as a vampire and a cannibal - an agent of 
            Death instead of a giver of (cyclical) Life. Monkey's masquerade 
            expresses this fall from grace. By the Han, the dautie design, once 
            so prominent, had declined, often ending up as a crude drawing above 
            the entrance to a tomb, precisely what Monkey had turned his own 
            insatiable mouth into. 
            This is not an uncommon fate for the old chthonic gods. In India an 
            equally insatiable "Face of Glory" is stationed outside temples, 
            supposedly to scare away the evil spirits. In Rome, the griffin was 
            the guardian of the sarcophagus (which means "meat-eater"). In 
            medieval Europe, gargoyles likewise crouched watchful on eaves. In 
            Egypt, Anubis the Jackal - Dog-Man by another name-witnessed the 
            weighing of souls. In Buddhism, Mara the Devil holds samsara in his 
            jaws. In Tang China, a pair of life-size hounds with human heads 
            (and sometimes single horns) stood guard near the dead. 
            Admittedly, the animal mask of Shang employed the leopard, not the 
            monkey, so we still have not accounted for the rise of Monkey in 
            this dance of death. I have tried, but have not been able, to find 
            monkey designs on early Shang and Zhou bronzes. It was only in the 
            Han that monkey figures appeared on sizable numbers of tombs. 
            Yet ancient China must have known the existence of monkeys. The 
            oracle bone script for one-legged Qui may well be a picture of a 
            monkey standing on a single leg holding onto a branch. A close 
            relative of the same Qui character yields something called a "mother 
            monkey" , thought to represent the form of Shun , a high ancestor of 
            the Shang, and possibly linked to that monkey subspecies mentioned 
            in the Platform Sutra. Among the Yue ethnic tribes in the south, Qui 
            is still remembered as a one-legged mountain monkey with the face of 
            a man and the body of a monkey, and gifted with a human tongue. 
            Darwinians should not object to this connection between man and 
            monkey, especially not when Peking Man is possibly the first Chinese 
            Our search for the original face of Monkey should not distract us 
            from his final destiny. Genealogy is only half the story. In his 
            second westward trip Monkey rises above his animal past, above even 
            humanity, to become a Buddha. In his first trip he acquired only 
            Taoist immortality, and discovered only his premoral, childlike, 
            monkey nature. Still capable of grudges against Heaven, Monkey loses 
            his good temper and is damned for his Titanic pride. Only on his 
            second trip West does Monkey, guided by the compassionate Guanyin, 
            find his true self, his Buddha-nature. Guanyin teaches Monkey an 
            invaluable lesson: that it is more important to tame the demon - the 
            "monkey mind" - within than subdue the demons without. 
            In that second journey to the West, Monkey learns the art of 
            Buddhist self-discipline. Guanyin initially puts a headband, a 
            "crown of thorns" as it were, on Monkey's forehead. The headband 
            gives Monkey insufferable headaches every time he harbors evil 
            thoughts. Mindfulness of good and evil eventually allows Monkey to 
            "Do good, avoid evil, and cleanse the mind." By journey's end, 
            Monkey is his own master, a victor over the demons within. When he 
            finally asks Guanyin to kindly remove the headband, Monkey is told 
            that it is not necessary. The crown of thorns had long since 
            magically disappeared. At last this protean Ape had grown, in his 
            progress as a pilgrim, into a Buddhist saint. 
            Weituo and the Frog Folklore 
            The Duke of Ai asked Confucius, "I have heard of there being a 
            one-legged Qui. Is this true?" The master answered, "Qui is a man. 
            What is this about his being one-legged? His physical form is no 
            different from that of other men. It is only that he was so uniquely 
            gifted in understanding music that Yao said, ~Qui is such that one 
            (i - ) of him is enough (zhu ).' Thereupon he was made Minister of 
            Music. The gentleman thus says: Qui is sufficient as one (yizhu - ). 
            It does not mean that he has only one leg (yizhu - )." - Huainanzi 
            What is it that Walked on all four in the morning, Two at noon, 
            Three in the evening, And the more legs it has, the weaker it 
            -The Sphinx's Riddle, from Oedipus Rex 
            If a European is asked if Oedipus was lame or "hard of walking," 
            only one who knows the literal meaning of the name Oedipus would 
            dream of agreeing. Most would say, as Confucius said when he was 
            asked about the one-legged Qui [dragon] (yizhu Qui), "No, he was no 
            cripple. He was a man like you and I - just more virtuous 
            Likewise, most people would agree with the answer given by Oedipus 
            to the Sphinx's riddle: "It is Man." Few would consider the 
            possibility that the answer intended by the Sphinx was: "It is the 
            Sphinx." Yet that was indeed the original solution to the mystery of 
            life: namely, that men rose out of the four-legged kingdom, all sons 
            of the Great Mother. Metonym-wise, this rise of man is captured by 
            the design of the Sphinx itself: a hairless human face (the mark of 
            the naked ape called man) rising out of the torso of a four-legged 
            lioness. We are indeed born of the animal kingdom. As babies, we go 
            about on all fours, only later learning to stand upright (homo 
            erectus). First walking with an uneven limp, one leg being stronger 
            than the other, we progress to walking steadily on two. But in the 
            autumn of our lives, we hobble again on three (two legs and a cane) 
            before finally crawling on all fours back to the womb of Mother 
            Earth. From dust we come; to dust we return. This is the lot of man. 
            This was the intended answer of the Sphinx's riddle. 
            Oedipus, the "swollen-legged," was one-legged or seminal humanity. 
            In China, this role is given to one-legged Qui. Here the word "leg" 
            is a metaphor for growth. To this day, the Chinese and the Japanese 
            languages still use this character to mean "sufficiency." "Lack of 
            leg" means "not enough." A threesome in mahjong is still called 
            "short one leg," and to be satiated is literally to be "full of 
            legs." Confucius could read "one leg" as "one (is) enough" because 
            of this metaphoric usage, but, as mentioned, "one-legged" originally 
            indicated a seminal being. Qui was the seminal dragon, the Ur-Being 
            of all beings. When Laozi traced all things back to the One, he was 
            just demythologizing this One(-legged) into the abstract One and 
            calling it the Mother of All Things. Laozi, however, does not 
            mention Qui by name - only Zhuangzi does, remembering Qui vaguely as 
            a mountain spirit. But in the same paragraph where he recalls this 
            about Qui, he mentions a marsh spirit, a swarm thing, called Weituo. 
            He gives us this more detailed description: 
            The Weituo is as big as a wheel hub, as tall as a carriage shaft, 
            has a purple robe and a vermillon hat and, as creatures go, is very 
            ugly. When it hears the sound of thunder or a carriage, it grabs its 
            head and stands up. Anyone who sees it will soon become a dictator. 
            (Watson 1964, 125) 
            We will read between the lines of this quote to present a story of 
            the fall of this and other Chthonians in ancient China. 
            Since Weituo is said to be of the marshes, it is of water. Water 
            belongs to the lower regions when contrasted with the sky above. 
            Since all land rests on water in Chinese cosmography, water connects 
            with the subterranean ocean itself. Water goes with rain and has 
            natural ties with thunder. The Yijing [Book of changes] even 
            remembers thunder as "rising from the ground in the second month 
            (spring) and disappearing back into it in the tenth (fall)." This 
            nine-month period marks the farming season. Rain heralds it; rain 
            ends it. Even today, the Chinese character for thunder depicts rain 
            (coming down) over the fields. We will later see how the sound of 
            thunder might be tied to the croaking of frogs. 
            Thunder, however, can also be the sound made by the wheels of the 
            sun chariot as it rambles across the heavenly plain. Usually drawn 
            by four horses, the sun chariot has large wheels set on giant hubs. 
            When Zhuangzi remembers Weituo as being "as large as those hubs," he 
            is indicating its tie to the sun chariot. When he says the Weitou 
            stands "as tall as the chariot's shaft," he is referring again to 
            the sun chariot, but also pointing to the chthonic "one leg" or "one 
            upturned tail" that we linked to the Chthonians in the main essay 
            above. Whenever rain is imminent, this Weituo is said to "grab its 
            head and stand up," which is one way of saying that it becomes awake 
            and alert. In Shakespearean terms, he "stands to" (becomes erect). 
            That it "awakes" at the first sound of thunder (in spring) suggests 
            that the Weituo has been asleep (in the winter months). 
           One animal known for poking its head out at the same time of the 
            year is the tortoise, but the tortoise is more generally thought of 
            as an animal that slumbers through the winter. In China the creature 
            most often associated with waking up when spring comes is the dragon 
            (the Dragon Boat Festival in spring celebrates this rebirth of 
            life).(26) Thus the turtle of winter is succeeded by the dragon of 
            spring. This is told in the myth of Yu and Gun, where Yu the dragon 
            (snake) is said to be born of his father Gun the turtle. Yu is the 
            new life that rises from the old, which Gun is regarded as being 
            since the turtle essentially becomes a hard rock (a lifeless shell) 
            when it withdraws its head and limbs and hibernates. Sometimes, 
            though, this headless and limbless turtle can still wag its tail 
            outside its shell, and this is its "one leg" (this also constitutes 
            the "third leg" of the mythic neng turtle).(27) From this slumbering 
            turtle of winter, the one-legged dragon of spring is born. 
            The myth has an empirical base. Farmers can still attest to how the 
            turtle can foretell rain: it becomes "alert" when rain is near, it 
            "grabs its head" (pokes it out), opens its mouth, and drinks up the 
            raindrops. If the turtle Gun is remembered for poking its tail at 
            Heaven, it is because in defiance of Heaven, Gun once stole the 
            magical earth from Heaven and used it to stop the Flood, dragging 
            his tail behind him. When Zhuangzi rejected political office - he 
            preferred to be like the turtle resting in the mud - he was 
            recalling Gun's defiance of the imperial authorities. 
            Weituo the marsh spirit shared that defiant attitude - it too was a 
            Titan with a grudge against Heaven. We are told that Weituo was 
            ugly, had a purple robe, and wore a vermilion hat, and was a bad 
            omen since its appearance signaled the rise of evil kings. Purple is 
            the color of royalty, which means that Weituo was at one time a god 
            on high. Vermilion is the color of the sun-bird, so Weituo once had 
            a celestial home, only being demoted to the watery regions below 
            during the rise of more distinct sky gods. That suggests that there 
            was a race of Titans who ruled the sky in China before they suffered 
            a fate similar to the Chthonians of ancient Greece, pushed from Mt. 
            Olympus by Zeus and company. In that political turnover, the 
            Chthonians - once beautiful to their worshippers - became big and 
            ugly, like the Cyclopes. That Weituo was "big and ugly" too puts him 
            in the same league as these displaced Titans. A Xia demiurge, Weitou 
            was probably demoted during the Shang and the Zhou with the rise of 
            the new cult of Shangdi and Heaven. Since it was by the mandate of 
            Shangdi and Heaven that the virtuous kings of Shang and Zhou ruled, 
            Weituo, who championed the cause of the Xia and thus sided with the 
            evil ruler overthrown by the Shang, is naturally perceived as an 
            evil omen. 
            But what would Weituo actually look like if we ran into him in real 
            life today? Although he could be turtle or snake, the best candidate 
            offered us by the folklore of the Zhuang tribesmen in South China is 
            the frog. A perennial symbol of fertility, this lunar animal is 
            valued for its seasonal metamorphosis. Its stomach waxes and wanes 
            like the moon. Its belly groans like thunder. It comes alive in 
            spring and hibernates through the winter. For the Zhuang tribes now 
            living in central and western Guangxi , the frog is also their 
            totemic ancestor, their Shangdi. They still have myths that tell of 
            the frog as the agent announcing the coming of rain and prophesying 
            the fortunes of the harvest for the community.(28) 
            Every New Year is attended by a rite of hunting and sacrificing a 
            frog, a celebration that lasts for fifteen days. It begins on New 
            Year's Day with everybody out digging in the fields, looking for a 
            hibernating frog. The first man to find one is sure to have good 
            fortune for the rest of the year, and his catch is announced 
            throughout the village. A small coffin is then prepared and the frog 
            entombed in it, after which it is paraded through the village amidst 
            much merrymaking and general gift-giving. That night, everyone 
            attends a formal funeral for the frog. But first, the body of last 
            year's frog is exhumed. Based on its coloration, the fortune for the 
            coming year is told. If the bones have turned yellow, it means a 
            good harvest; if black, a bad one; if grayish, an average one. If 
            they are white, it means there will be a good cotton crop. 
            The ritual is more intact than the myths, which have apparently 
            suffered some corruption. Some totemic beliefs have been overly 
            rationalized. In one myth, for example, it is said that the frog was 
            the son of the thunder god. Whenever mankind needed rain, it had 
            only to inform the frog, and the frog, by croaking, would pass man's 
            request for rain to his father. The thunderclouds would then gather 
            and rain would fall. The croaking of the frog apparently acted as 
            sympathetic magic, imitating the thunder of Heaven that preceded the 
            rain. Originally the sacrifice of the frog was the sacrifice of the 
            tribe's totemic ancestor, its giver of life, rain, fertility, and 
            general good fortune. 
            But this sense of reverence has been lost in some redacted versions 
            of the myth, perhaps because men had trouble identifying themselves 
            with the frog as a fellow kinsman. Thus it is now said in one tale, 
            for example, that a certain family was mourning its dead when a frog 
            nearby joined in the chorus. Offended by its noisy croaking, one 
            family member grabbed a pot of boiling water (a wicked substitute 
            for the falling rain) and killed the frog with it. With the 
            messenger so killed, prayers for rain to the god of thunder went 
            unanswered. It was not until the people consulted their (human, not 
            frog) ancestors and learned the cause of the drought that amends 
            were made. Henceforth mankind showed filial respect to the frog and 
            gave it a decent burial every year to ensure that the rain would 
            fall. This is clearly a patched-up story, a broken and badly retold 
            myth about a totemic sacrifice. If, indeed, the mistake lay simply 
            in killing the messenger, why not stop the annual ritual killing 
            The next two stories have been affected even more by secular 
            rationality. In one, thunder was plotting to strike a human hero (a 
            rewrite of the old ancestor). The frog, a general serving the god of 
            thunder (instead of being the god's son), leaked the secret to the 
            man. The hero then laid a trap, captured the thunder god, and 
            coerced him into sending rain. That the god did, but he was so 
            angered by the frog's betrayal that he has sought to strike frogs 
            dead with lightning ever since. A popular proverb now has man 
            boasting, "No frog in hand, no fear of being hit by lightning." The 
            other redacted tale, an explanation of the New Year's rite outlined 
            above, goes even further. Mankind now boasts of killing one frog, 
            and of threatening the thunder god with killing more if he does not 
            send rain. This is not worship, it is blackmail. These tales tell of 
            a mankind no longer fearful of the thunder god. As a result, the 
            frog ends up being a mere pawn in the struggle between man and the 
            natural elements. 
            The Confucian rationalization of the frog myth is complete in the 
            following tale. Once upon a time, the thunder god had decreed that 
            at death the old must allow themselves to be eaten by the young. 
            This cult of human sacrifice (a rewrite of the totemic feast) ended 
            when one filial (i.e., Confucianized) family secretly killed a cow 
            instead. The god was angry at the deception and sent the frog down 
            to spy on man and find out who innovated this practice. But the frog 
            was caught and forced to reveal to man the secret of how thunder was 
            made, which was by beating on a large bronze drum topped by four 
            carved frogs. This drum would send off lightning bolts. Learning 
            this, the family made a similar drum with six frogs, two more than 
            the god's. Beating the drum not only brought rain but also chased 
            the god of thunder away for good. Large, ancient, bronze drums with 
            four frogs on top have now been retrieved from archeological sites 
            in South China. The above story is now told at funerals even as the 
            shamans dance to modern versions of these frog drums. 
            In these frog tales, we see how an ancient Chthonian who used to 
            rule on high suffered during the rise of the cult of Heaven. First 
            it was demoted to the status of a fertility god in the marshes. For 
            some time, though, this totemic god could inspire fear in men by 
            withholding rain from the fields, before it suffered further 
            indignities as the myth was rewritten into mere folktales about the 
            unlucky frog.(29) The White Ape fared better in this regard. It at 
            least retained the virile power to seduce women. Not so the frog, 
            which lacks even enough potency (de) to qualify as an occasional 
            Frog Prince for a human mate.(30) 
            (1.) I shall follow Waley in using the names Pigsy and Sandy for 
            easier recognition. Anthony Yu's translation includes many 
            invaluable annotations, another point in its favor. Henceforth in 
            this essay Monkey refers to Waley and the first seven chapters, and 
            Journey refers to Yu and the rest of the one-hundred-chapter version 
            of this text. (2.) For a general discussion, see Yu 1977, 8-12. The 
            tale, entitled "The Wife of the Monkey," is no. 30 in Eberhard 1965, 
            67-68. See also tale no. 18, 29-31; notation on Monkey King on pages 
            214 and 206; and further references therein. The Palace Museum in 
            Taipei has a large painting of a White Ape. (3.) Cited by Yu 1977, 
            9. (4.) The Buddhist Jataka tales contain many monkeys. Monkeys have 
            often been used for their imitative piety. But Mulian's troupe is 
            probably important for having provided the context for introducing 
            Indian acrobatics to the theatrics of the Monkey King Hanuman on 
            stage. (5.) As noted by Yu 1977, 10; found in chapter 66 as the 
            Great Sage of Water Ape. (6.) The two faces of the holy and the 
            demonic lie behind the actual double masks of the gods. Siva has 
            three, with the third uniting the other two. See later discussion on 
            the trident as a symbol of this union of opposites. (7.) There has 
            always been a relationship between the moon and the madness of 
            multiple transformations (or, nowadays, multiple personalities). 
            Water, as an extension of lunar myth (via the tide), is seen as 
            formless, chaotic, and too slippery to grab hold of. On the moon and 
            its mystique, see Eliade 1963, 154-87. Carl Hentze has done much 
            work on lunar myth, but his work is in German; for an example of his 
            approach in English, see Naumann 1982. (8.) A word of gratitude is 
            in order here. Anthony Yu alerted me in a private communication that 
            the novel knew of the possibility of a double for Monkey, 
            "especially in the comic episode of the ~Two Minds Disturbing the 
            Universe' in chapters 56-58." I had not noticed this. AFS editor 
            Peter Knecht also pointed out to me that monkeys can swim; I had 
            assumed that they cannot. The idea that Monkey could not swim might 
            be based on the Ramayana: Hanuman, the Indian Monkey King, unable to 
            swim from South India to Sri Lanka, climbed a hill, magically 
            expanded his body, and leapt across the strait. (9.) Waley 
            1943,17-100. This work is dated, of course. Graham, nevertheless, 
            uses a similar term: "potency" (1989, 13-15). (10.) See Wang 1983 (a 
            Chinese translation of Shirakawa Shizuka's collected essays in 
            Japanese), 35-47, for an overview of flood stories and their place 
            in the early culture of China. On Li Bing, see note 11. (11.) For 
            the exploits of Erlang, see Huang 1934. I am drawing on more recent 
            data unearthed by Xiao (1987), whose article covers Li Bing, the cow 
            and the river, Li Erlang, and, most importantly, Yang Erlang. My 
            reason for reading "cow" bull, water buffalo) as "rhinoceros" 
            (another possibility) will be explained in part 4 of this essay. 
            Anthony Yu, in a personal communication (16 August 1992), informed 
            me that the White Ape assumes the form of a monster who led the 
            Seven Fiends of Plum Mountain on the side of the Shang against the 
            righteous forces of the rising Chou (chapters 87-93 of the Fengshen 
            yenyi ). The Fiends were defeated by Nata and Erlang (under a 
            different name) in a manner resembling the duel in Monkey. (12.) See 
            Lai 1990. (13.) See Lai 1992. (14.) See Wang 1983, 64-69. He has 
            some observations on the leopard and the tigress that I missed in my 
            essay (Lai 1990). (15.) See O'Flaherty 1973. (16.) My translation 
            uses the later popular account - not the oldest Donghuang text - 
            since the popular text was what counted in the Ming-Qing period. The 
            idea that Huineng was a little boy comes from this later text. (17.) 
            "Folk Zen" is my term for a post-Sung genre of popularized Zen 
            wisdom found in the literature of Ming-Qing. Besides Monkey, we see 
            such folk Zen in works like Water Margin, Drunken Buddha, and Dream 
            of the Red Chambers. (18.) Popular culture upsurged in the later 
            Tang, after 755. The Baolin zhuan took in much folk wisdom, but then 
            much of Mahayana avadana literature too has a folk origin. The 
            distinction between elite wisdom and folk wisdom in literature can 
            be a precarious one, and ideologically motivated. (19.) See Lai 
            1984a, which explains how the verses were redacted by the Hongzhou 
            school. (20.) This is my liberal reading, based on the coiled 
            serpent in Shang libation bronzes. White (1991) Offers the more 
            accepted reading of the name. The most detailed study of this 
            southern chaos myth in English is by Girardot (1983). I take the 
            snake in the libation bronze to represent the awakening of the 
            dragon by spring rain. Nelly Naumann sees it as another lunar 
            symbol: the snake drinking from the water of life rooted in the 
            moon. See Naumann 1982, 16-23. (21.) On Gun, see Lai 1988, 28-36. 
            See also Allan 1990 and my review of her book in Taoist Resources 
            3/1: 73-82. (22.) On Gun and Yu, see Lai 1984b. For the fish mask 
            that goes with Qi having two dragons dangling from his ears, see Lai 
            1990. There are other pictograms in Chinese for animals with tails, 
            but, in both the animal designs on ancient bronzes and in Chinese 
            calligraphy, the tiger's tail does not point upward and the bird's 
            tail is always tucked in. (23.) On the Qui, see Ching and Guisso 
            1991; certain of the essays are relevant to the discussion here, 
            though the authors tend to accept the later readings of the dragon. 
            See especially Raymond Dragan's "The Dragon in Chinese Myth and 
            Ritual: Rites of Passage and Sympathetic Magic" on pages 135-62. 
            (24.) The material in this paragraph is taken from Wang 1983, 
            118-19. (25.) I will present a more detailed analysis of the 
            One-Legged in a future essay, tentatively titled "Unmasking the 
            Cripples in Zhuangzi 5." (26.) The Dragon Boat Festival actually 
            falls in summer, so the intertwining of snake and tortoise is as 
            much "summer and winter" as it is "spring libation and fall 
            sacrifice." (27.) The neng is three-legged, which is a metaphor of 
            the amphibious animals that can walk on land and also swim in the 
            water. The bird (a waterfowl) is also three-legged. To come up with 
            the count of three, count the front fins of a sea turtle and the 
            paddling feet of a duck as two, and add the "pulled-together" hind 
            legs of the former and the tail of the latter as the third leg. 
            (28.) Materials for this discussion are taken from Nan 1987. See 
            this issue of Asian Folklore Studies for my review of the PRC 
            journal that Nan's article appears in. (29.) Nan (1987) sees the 
            Zhuang as originally fishermen, whose totems, when they were still 
            living farther north, were the fish and snake. There are records of 
            such a totemic tribe in the south; people there "cut off their hair 
            and tattooed their bodies with fish scales so that as they swam in 
            the waters, they would not be bitten by fish and snakes." (I myself 
            see this as the source of the Xia myths about Yu and Gun.) But Nan's 
            theory requires him to postulate that the Zhuang tribesmen adopted 
            the frog as their totem after they stopped fishing following the 
            introduction of agriculture to the area. I find such drastic changes 
            in ancestry unlikely, even inconceivable, since the frog totems can 
            be traced to frog drawings on the prehistoric red pottery of 
            Yangshou. The author also uses a more Marxian reading, seeing the 
            decline in potent frog stories as resulting from man's increasing 
            dominance over nature. I prefer to remain with the symbolic paradigm 
            shift, with Heaven and humanism (Zhou) rising at the expense of the 
            Chthonian Xia). The latter was then valued for its fertility role 
            but condemned for its blood sacrifice. (30.) The Frog Prince is a 
            survival of the memory of the frog as a fertility deity and as an 
            ancestor. The Dog Prince is by far the more widespread lore in South 
            China. See White 1991 and Girardot 1983. 
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