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Xiyouji (西游记)

Chinese. ‘Record of travel to the West’, usually referred to as ‘Journey to the West’, a classical Chinese story based on real events. It describes the adventurous pilgrimage of a Buddhist monk to India in order to obtain a copy of the sutras. On his long and dangerous trip into the unknown the monk, called Xuanzang or Tripitaka (fig.), is accompanied by three powerful disciples and a dragon-horse (fig.), all of whom joined as a penitence, since they had originally behaved in a manner contrary to the precepts of Buddhism. The monk's traveling companions aid and protect the vulnerable monk in return for forgiveness of their sins committed in an earlier life. Since they hope to also receive Enlightenment after the fulfillment of their task, their journey is often seen as an allegory for a person's individual journey towards Enlightenment. The three disciples are Sun Wukong, who is also known as the Monkey King (fig.); Zhu Bajie, a half-man half-pig character who is also called Pigsy (fig.); and Sha Wujing, a fallen general who was exiled to the mortal world as a hideous figure, also known as Friar Sandy (fig.). Besides these three there is also Yulong Santaizi (fig.), the third son of the Jade Dragon, who usually appears in the transformed shape of Xuanzang's horse. The 700 meters long wooden corridor in the Beijing Summer Palace (fig.) has several paintings depicting scenes from this classical Chinese story.


Journey to the West