Legend of the Monkey King - China's Original Superhero

If you were anywhere near the downtown area (or in the greater San Diego County) this past weekend, you would not have been able to escape the barrage of superhero costumes, posters and banners, advertisements, and much, much more because of the annual San Diego Comic Con International convention.  Comic-Con celebrates everything that has to do with comics, anime, movies, television, and general popular culture.  The most wonderful thing about this mammoth event is that every type of obsession, passion, interest, fascination and fan-dom is welcomed and accepted. 

For this week’s blog, SDCHM would like to introduce one of China’s oldest and beloved superhero, Sun Wukong , commonly known as Monkey King. Along with facts and a short history of the timeless character, we'll also give you a fun do-it-yourself recyclable craft for making your own magical, expanding staff just like Monkey King!  So put down that hand-held device and get hooked on the Legend of the Monkey King -- China's Original Superhero!

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Monkey King was first introduced to Chinese popular culture as one of the main characters from the epic novel  Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en during the Qing Dynasty and has been a superhero favorite in China for over five centuries.

The story tells of the travels of a Buddhist monk named Xuanzang and his three protectors, one of which was Sun Wukong, or the Monkey King.  Xuanzang is instructed by Guanyin, who was ordered by Buddha himself, to travel to India and retrieve Buddha’s sutras. 

Monkey King was born from a magical boulder on the Island of Mountains of Fruit and Flowers.  According to the story, the gods of Heaven saw the light that shined through the Monkey’s eyes, and even after realizing that it was born from magic of a regular boulder, thought to themselves, “What harm could a simple monkey do?”

Monkey King has many superhero powers that help him through his travels and battles with demons, dragons, and even gods.  He is superhero strong, as evident in his ability to carry his magical staff, Ruyi Jingu Bang如意金箍.  The staff weighs over 18,000 pounds and can change depending on the will of its master including stretching, multiplying, and fighting style.  Monkey King also has super speed, traveling at least 34,000 miles with one somersault, is a highly skilled fighter, magician, and is privy to 72 animal and object transformations.  However, Monkey King has yet to master the art of transforming into the human form as his tail always seems to be left attached.  

Two of the most identifying characteristics of Monkey King (other than the fact that he's a monkey) is his trusty staff and his flying nimbus.  There have been many adaptations and versions of this character throughout the world including the Japanese anime character Goku from the television show Dragon Ball, which was itself an adaptation from the original manga.  

Ruyi Jingu Bang - Monkey King's Magical Staff

For a reduce-your-use craft, today we'll be making an expanding staff from old newspapers.  

Materials  Needed:
Old newspapers, tape, scissors.  TIP: It is best to use tabloid newspapers as broadsheet size newspapers might be too big and cumbersome to use.  

If the staff portion of the newspaper is not strong enough, it can be substituted with an old wooden chopstick. 

As SDG&E Partners in spreading the word about energy-conservation, SDCHM encourages all our followers to do their part to conserve energy. For tips on saving energy, check out SDG&E's website at www.sdge.com


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