He is the Monkey King, The Chinese Trickster God known throughout Chinese Mythology as an unstoppable force, one who was blessed with Immortality and the ability to shapeshift into 72 different animals and objects.
Sun Wukong is one of the most important Chinese figureheads when it comes to Gods and supernatural beings. He is a beloved character said to have been born from a magical rock, and also known for his mishaps that led to him being thrown out of Heaven and being imprisoned under a mountain for five centuries by the Buddha.
The first mention of the name of Sun Wukong was in the novel Journey to the West, where he accompanied the monk named Tang Sanzang who started his travels from Southern China to India to bring back holy texts that were said to bring enlightenment.
Considering that the story of Sun Wukong spread throughout the globe, and it’s even more used in various mediums such as tv shows and games alongside fantasy novels, Sun Wukong became a symbol of overwhelming strength in front of adversity. People decided to commemorate the figure of the Monkey King in various ways, be it through songs, stories, poems, or even tattoos.
So we’re trying to find out what makes the character of Sun Wukong so interesting and why would people try to get a Sun Wukong tattoo on their body.
We can first surmise that the place of birth of Sun Wukong was on Mount Huaguo, where he was born from a rock, which the wind shaped in the form of a monkey that was supernaturally brought to life. He soon becomes the leader of the monkeys that roamed the lands, ending up being their king. But Sun Wukong realizing that his own mortality would one day come decided to search for a way to reach immortality.
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When the Ten Judges of the Dead come for him, he fights back and ends up stealing the book of the dead from the Judge’s hands. He then erases his name and the names of his monkey subordinates from the Book of Life and Death.
The Jade Emperor heard of how easy was to annoy the Monkey King, so he allowed him to live in Heaven so he could feel a sense of importance. Sun Wukong easily accepted the Jade Emperors’ offer so he said his farewell and set off towards the Jade Palace.
He was tricked however by the Jade Emperor when Sun Wukong was offered the lowest tasks in all the Heaven: guarding the Jade Emperor’s horses. He realized then that the other Gods would never see him as one of their equals. Sun Wukong quickly became obsessed with the idea of immortality and began a pursuit to obtain everlasting life.
Sun Wukong got annoyed with the Gods when they did not invite him to the celebration party for the wife of the Jade Emperor. So Sun Wukong made an enormous banner which had written on it “Great Sage Equal to Heaven”, an act that taunted the Jade Emperor.
So in retaliation, the Emperor sent a battalion of soldiers to arrest Sun Wukong for his act, but that only proved Sun Wukongs prowess in battle, when he ended up defeating all the soldiers by himself. For this, the Jade Emperor was forced to recognize Sun Wukongs power and promoted him to be a guard of the Peaches of Immortality.
Yet again, Sun Wukong was annoyed by this act, considering that the Emperor still viewed him as being beneath him. So Wukong decided to eat all the Peaches of Immortality from the garden. This time, the Emperor was furious and decided to send two battalions to capture the Monkey King. But still, all of them ended up being defeated by Sun Wukong.
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As a final desperate measure to get rid of the Monkey King, the Jade Emperor asked Buddha to punish Wukong for his acts. So Buddha banished Sun Wukong from Heaven and as further punishment, he put a mountain on top of Sun Wukong, trapping him there so he could repent of his actions.
Journey to the West
It took 500 years for Wukong to finally be released from his captivity. A traveling monk happened to be passing by near the place of captivity of the Monkey King, so he offered him a way to repent and become the monk’s disciple, for the reward of being set free from the mountain.
As a way to keep the Monkey King under control, the goddess of mercy Guanyin offered the monk a magical headband that would control Sun Wukong. During the travels to India, Sun Wukong battled alongside his companion all types of demons and monsters, which in the end brought enlightenment and an end to the urges of angry, greedy, and devious tendencies.
The story of Sun Wukong is one of awe and strength of character to never back down, even against the mightiest of foes! You will always be faced with difficult choices, which you either confront head-on or run away from them, avoiding them until the situation becomes worse!
All in all, the story of the Monkey King is one worth commemorating, be it in prose, in musicals, or even tattooed on the skin. There are countless people who after hearing of the Journey to the West story, decided to get a Sun Wukong tattoo on their body, celebrating the accomplishments of the Monkey King, and his tough trials alongside his trusted companions.
The Monkey King does not simply represent a title, the appearance of Sun Wukong was that of a naked macaque, but after receiving the teachings of his mentor, the Buddhist monk, Tang Sanzang, Sun Wukong appeared in full body armor, such as golden body armor, a phoenix feathered cap, cloud walking boots and his most trusty weapon, the Ruyi Jingu Bang, which can weigh up to 8 tonnes, and can shrink and enlarge at Sun Wukongs will.
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The difference between a good Sun Wukong Tattoo and a bad one is right in the details. One can always be inspired by the stories of the Monkey King to create a beautiful design. According to the lore, Sun Wukong was a trickster first and foremost. He started playing tricks on his monkey companions, even on the Gods from the Heavens. He was infamous because of this.
Another part of the Monkey King that made him famous is his anger, and how quickly he could lose his temper. As soon as his rage would be unleashed, he would be a foe that could rival even the armies of Heaven, proving to his enemies that he cannot be stopped. Demons and Gods were vanquished by his might. That’s why a Sun Wukong Tattoo can always be done in a way that can express Wukong’s rage, as it is his greatest asset against his enemies.
The posture of the Monkey King is a subject worth debating. You can have him drawn lazying around, or being battle ready with his weapon close by, covered from head to toe in his golden armor, ready to stand tall against any threat.
What do you think about the colors? Do you want a full blackwork tattoo, do you want a splash of color added to it, or just go haywire with colors and go full color for the tattoo? Whether it’s your first tattoo, or you’ve got other tattoos as well, you need to carefully decide if you want to have the Sun Wukong tattoo in tone with your other tattoos, or just make it more unique and have it stand out apart from your other tattoo.
Whatever choice you decide for your Sun Wukong Tattoo to go with, we always encourage our readers to search for a tattoo artist compatible with your taste, and to always get inspired from as many sources as possible, but to always try and create a unique piece of art, because, at the end of the day, you should create a unique tattoo that you can be proud of.
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