Nationality: Chinese American
Residence: Austin, TX
Date of Performance/Collection: March 2012
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Mandarin Chinese, Spanish
The informant knew of this story from a young age and it was told to him by his parents. However, he also acknowledged that Sun Wukong had many stories surrounding him, and as he couldn’t remember many of them, consulted Wikipedia to refresh his memory. His explanation follows:
“Sun Wukong, also the Monkey King, was supposed to be one of the strongest fighters in Ancient China and he was like immortal and had a staff and could fly on a cloud and stuff and he was a monkey that could transform into different things. Anyways he has a bunch of stories like one is he made some gods mad, so he was given a low rank in heaven. I think he was guarding a peach garden and the peaches would make whoever ate them immortal. Wukong ate one of these peaches and so he became an immortal. After this, he wants to get back at heaven and basically crushes their entire army, until Buddha himself stops him and imprisons him under the ocean. When hes under the ocean, he meets a dragon who says that if he can lift a really heavy pillar in the dragons temple, he will get a powerful weapon. Wukong completes this challenge pretty easily and finds out that the pillar can change size and is actually a magic staff that he uses as a weapon. Then there’s another story where he did something bad, and as punishment was thrown in a magic fireplace to be burned to death. But Wukongs really strong so instead his skin hardened into armor and when he came out his eyes were on fire but he could see through enemy disguises and tricks or something like that. Basically Wukong was a monkey that was really strong and theres a lot of stories everyone knows about him.”
This is a Chinese myth surrounding the Monkey King, who probably played a role in the creation of the Earth and nation, as he dealt with many of the gods surrounding Chinese culture. He has many warrior qualities, that may have been symbols of strength in the age of Imperial China, which is likely where this story originated. Thus this story is one that promotes nationalism and patriotism by portraying Wukong as a symbol of national strength and perseverance. This is further shown in his interaction with other figures found in the official history, such as Buddha. This interaction provides insight to why certain things are the way they are, and also ties into the moral foundation of the nation, as figures such as Buddha are major proponents of Chinese religion.
Recently in the computer game, League of Legends, Wukong has made an appearance. In the game, Wukong is created when a group of monkeys finds a magical stone in the forest. He is described as driven by an unquenchable desire for greatness, and defeats all evil in the forest, but it’s still not enough of a challenge. He then seeks out a master warrior and asks him for advice, and trains under him, receiving his staff weapon during this time, before journeying on to the arena in which the game takes place.
In the game, Wukong is represented in much of the same ways as he appears in traditional folklore. His staff is his main weapon, and it extends to attack foes. He can also create images of himself to confuse the enemies and summon clouds for transportation, which has also been documented in many stories. Finally, the legend where he is burned but emerges stronger is incorporated and in the game he has “stone skin,” which “Increases Wukong’s armor and magic resistance for each nearby enemy.”