Astrology | The Year of the Monkey
According to tradition the Year of the Monkey is supposed to be lively, interesting but perhaps troublesome, in keeping with the Monkey's nature. The cycle of the twelve animals repeats every twelve years, so anyone born in the 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932 or 1920 is probably a Monkey (unless they were born in January or early February, when they might belong to the previous animal in the cycle, the Horse).
The Monkey King is the hero of a novel by Wu Cheng'en, a fantastic story of the supernatural Monkey King Sun Wukong who travels with the Buddhist monk Tripitaka to India to collect Buddhist scriptures. Tripitaka is based on a real person, the Tang dynasty translator Xuanzang, who braved the mountains and deserts of western China to go on a pilgrimage to the land of the Buddha.
In the novel Monkey the Monkey King fights tyranny in the form of military might of the Jade Emperor, with a humorous and anarchic lack of respect for authority. The story has sometimes been seen as a satire on the power and humourless repression of the state. In recent times, Chairman Mao liked to compare himself to the cudgel-wielding Monkey, breaking all conventions in his determination to revolutionise China root and branch in the face of opposition from the forces of reaction.
The golden-haired monkey is one of China's most treasured animals. It lives in high forests, feeding on twigs, leaves and fruit, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Guizhou and Hubei. Groups of monkeys lead a nomadic lifestyle, living in lower regions in the spring and winter, moving to higher levels in summer and autumn. The groups are sometimes several hundred strong, controlled by a dominant male, the 'monkey king'.
© Copyright Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU) 2001 by David Wright reprinted from SACU's magazine China Now 140, Page 20, 1992
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