Different Versions of Monkey King
Almost imperceptible to the eye is a difference between the two sets of depictions seen here, taken from a comic book entitled Sun Wukong Thrice Defeats the White-Boned Demon and published twice, once in 1962 and once in 1972. The comic is based on an opera that in itself takes up a set of scenes from the classic sixteenth-century novel Journey to the West (西游记 Xiyouji). The two scenes selected here show, first, the Monkey King named Sun Wukong (孙悟空), who is seen going off to search for a demon he knows is hiding, lurking somewhere in this barren region.
Before leaving, Sun Wukong draws a circle around his companions with his magic rod (千钧棒) (ill. 6.7a&b). Monkey King admonishes his companions—Scholar-Monk Tang Seng (唐僧), the pig Zhu Bajie (猪八戒) and Monk Sha (沙僧)—to remain seated within the circle and wait for his return. In his absence—and this is what the second set of pictures shows—the white-boned demon arrives in the form of a beautiful lady (ill. 6.7c&d). She attempts to grab the ignorant pilgrims who are so taken by her beauty in order to eat them later, but she fails to capture them. The circle drawn by Sun Wukong is powerful: its radiance repels the demon.