The Magic Gourd, the
Monkey King and the "Journey to
The gourd has also played a role in
popular Chinese culture. The "Journey to the West" (Xiyouji 西游记) is one of the most
famous novels from the Ming Dynasty and one of the most
beloved characters from that novel is the Monkey King (Sun Wukong 孙悟空).
In one episode, the Monkey King receives word that demons are on their
way to capture him with their magic gourd. The Monkey King
disguises himself as an immortal and goes to meet them. The
demons are unaware that the immortal is, in fact, the Monkey King and
proceed to show him the magic gourd which can hold ten thousand
people. The Monkey King then shows them a gourd, which in reality
is perfectly ordinary, but which he says is magical and can hold the
The demons are intrigued and express willingness to swap their magic
gourd for the immortal's gourd if he can prove that it indeed has the
power to contain the sky.
The Monkey King, who has many extraordinary abilities, quickly obtains
permission from the spirits to block the light of the sun, moon and
stars for one hour.
The Monkey King is thus able to deceive the demons into thinking that
he has bottled
up the heavens in his gourd and, in so doing, is triumphant in swapping
his ordinary gourd for the demons' magic one.