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Demons and Fairies Guarding Obstacles: The Narrative on Passing Obstacles and Allegories Implied in Journey to the West
|Keywords:||《西遊記》 ; 過關 ; 解厄 ; 壇場圖 ; 宗教文學 |
Journey to the West ; passing obstacles ; overcoming adversities ; altar paintings ; religious literature
|Issue Date:||2020-10-12 09:53:44 (UTC+8)|
This paper establishes the narrative mode of ＂passing obstacle＂ to interpret Journey to the West, and proposes a theoretical framework based on folk games and ritualistic obstacle passing. This framework is supported by the text which includes words such as ＂dusai＂ (賭賽), ＂dusheng＂ (賭勝), and the most frequently used ＂dudou＂ (賭鬥), all of which are related with wagering. The plots of matching magic power involve adversities in Journey to the West. The demons and fairies carry out orders by the Bodhisattva Avalokitsvara (Guanyin), to test Sanzang (Tripitaka) and his disciples. Dramatic tension is created between the demons and fairies setting up and Sanzang and his disciples overcoming the obstacles. The folk rituals of ＂passing obstacle＂ require divine intervention, similarly, the five immortals must collaborate to overcome the obstacles. The obstacles are set up in such a way to resemble a closed, controlled competition, which attracts and encourages readers to continuing reading. Among the demons and fairies responsible for guarding the obstacles, the fairies come into being after many years of practice, while the demons must assume the forms of other beings. The frequency of occurrences of transformation of demons and fairies is evenly distributed between Buddhist and Daoist references. Since Journey to the West is the novelization of Buddhist stories, the pilgrimage should be based on Buddhist belief. However, the plots also involve Daoism, the occurrence of Daoist references is even more than that of Buddhism, revealing the author's religious knowledge base. The core concept behind the ＂passing obstacle＂ narrative is based on ＂casting and breaking the spells,＂ however, even though the demons and fairies embody evil forces, they are not all terminated. Some of them are subdued and given the chance to continue practicing, which highlights the emphasis on practicing in both Buddhism and Daoism at the time when the novel was written. The plots of matching magic power are interspersed with the use of many magic weapons, this design connects the relevant big and small incidents to make the stories more interesting. Since the magic weapons are stolen by the demons and fairies from their heavenly masters, their power far exceeds that of weapons of the disciples. The only way to subdue the demons and fairies is to summon the heavenly masters. The plots are designed as such to increase the intensity of practice required of the five immortals, to make the plots more interesting, and are likely inspired by Daoist and Buddhist paintings. The mounts of the Avatamsaka (Flower Adornment) Assembly, such as the Bodhisattva Manjusri (Wenshu)'s blue lion, the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra (Puxian)'s white elephant, and Bodhisattva Avalokitsvara's golden-haired lion, are modeled after depiction of marks of the embodiment of the fish basket holding Bodhisattva Guanyin. This conception of figures draws from Buddhist altar paintings. The Daoist altar and statues are the inspiration for the Grand Supreme Elder Lord (Taishang laojun)'s blue ox, the Celestial Worthy Savior from Suffering (Taiyi jiuku tianzun)'s nine-headed lion, even the wind, thunder, cloud and rain gods, twenty-eight stars, etc. These figures are often seen in Daoist rituals and not solely based on imagination. This paper also explores how the manifested and hidden meanings are staggered, to understand how the author uses demons and fairies as metaphors for political reality of the Ming dynasty. The demons and fairies that occupy mountains and roads are seen as allusions to the lords and strongmen during the Jiajing era. The funny stories in the novel are designed to mask the harsh reality that the author intends to portray, this may also be why the author did not reveal his name. This is the conventional way to interpret religious literature in a culture relying on allegories to convey meanings.
|Relation:||政大中文學報, 31, 77-127|
|DOI 連結:||https://doi.org/ 10.30407/BDCL.201906_(31).0004|
|Appears in Collections:||[政大中文學報 THCI Core] 期刊論文|
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