Zhang Guangyu’s 張光宇 (1900-1965) overlooked masterpiece, Manhua Journey to the West 西遊漫記 was originally created in the fall of 1945 while Zhang was living in the wartime capital of Chongqing. Deeply critical of the ruling KMT government, it was eventually banned and did not see print for another 13 years. For the sake of introducing Zhang’s out-of-print work to a larger audience, I’ve taken the liberty of translating the entire 60 page comic into English and will be posting it in installments on my blog over the next several weeks.
In part 4 of this 6 part translation, Monkey narrowly avoids a full-body haircut only to land on the giant Peach of Immortality, where he finds himself surrounded by dancing immortals and fairies. Monkey concludes that he has somehow arrived back at the Southern Heavenly Gates. Princess Iron Fan appears in the middle of the festivities and asks Monkey to dance and rather surprisingly, given his characteristic lack of interest in the opposite sex in the original novel, he agrees. After their dance, Princess Iron Fan leads Monkey into the garden to “whisper sweet nothings among the grapevines.” Just when things are starting to heat up though, an unpleasant surprise soon cools Monkey’s ardor…
31. 悟空从那美女剪刀下挣扎脱身，踉踉跄跄逃出门外，回头一看见有“美发宫”三个字写着，他方[才？]明白道：“老孙的毫毛根根都有用处，如果把他剃净岂不难看，而且 世界哪有光皮猴孙，幸亏老孙机警逃得出来，否则就大上其当了！”说着他倒反而得意起来，反背着手洋洋地沿走廊踱过去，忽然脚底下的地板自己转动起来，一霎 时像旋转乾坤般的转得孙猴儿头昏眼花，手足无措，翻了不知多少筋斗。
Sun Wukong wrestled free from the woman with the scissors, stumbling and staggering out of the door, he looked back to see the words, “Palace Hairdressers,” leading him to say, “Every hair of Sun Wukong’s downy fur has its use, if you shaved me bare, wouldn’t I look terrible? Besides, who’s ever heard of a hairless monkey? Good thing that the vigilant Sun managed to escape, otherwise I would have fallen into her trap!” Having said this, he began to feel full of himself, strolling down the corridor with his hands clasped behind him, smiling contentedly, when suddenly the floor beneath his feet swiveled and with a whoosh! Sun Wukong spun around like a yin yang sign, leaving him dizzy with blurred vision. He was completely helpless, somersaulting into the void who knows how many times.
32. 转动渐渐的和缓下来，悟空耳朵边听得音乐幽扬，觉得身子又滑进一个地方，又听见拍手喝彩的声音：“好一个偷桃的猴子来了！”睁眼一看原来置身在一只大蟠桃 上，四面环绕着诸天大罗神仙，上面端坐着西王母仙驾，恍然悟到：“怎么又会来到南天门咧？”一下子一列彩衣仙女围着蟠桃又跳起舞来。
The spinning gradually lessened, and Wukong began to hear the wafting melodies of music. He perceived that he had arrived in a new place, hearing the sound of applause: “A peach stealing monkey has arrived!” Wukong opened his eyes to discover that he was lying on top of a peach of immortality, surrounded from four sides by gargantuan Daoist immortals, headed by the Queen Mother of the West. Suddenly becoming aware of where he was, Wukong said to himself, “How come I’m back at the Southern Heavenly Gates again?” In a flash, a row of fairy maidens in colorful gowns surrounded the peach of immortality and began to dance.
When the fairy maidens had finished dancing, there was another burst of applause, and tune changed, and each of the elderly immortals was paired with a female immortal, pressing close together and doing the Butterfly Dance of the Immortals. Among them, the immortal of the South Pole and the fairy maiden He were particularly splendid dancers.
34. Just when Sun Wukong thought he had nowhere to go, suddenly Princess Iron Fan stepped up onto the stage to ask the monkey Sun to dance with her. Sun Wukong said, “How come a monster like you is being so nice?” Princess Iron Fan said, “That’s all in the past, there’s no need remember such things! Come on! Come on!” Not wanting to seem impolite, the monkey Sun agreed to dance with her. He was surprised to discover she was an excellent dancing partner, with a slender and supple waist, like a poplar or willow, and soft, vulpine steps.
When they had finished dancing, the assembled immortals returned to their seats to drink wine and lift their flagons. Only the Great Sage Sun and Princess Iron Fan were without seats, so they walked hand in hand into the Garden of the Immortals, where they whispered sweet nothings among the grapevines.
Just when things were starting to heat up, the three great immortals Zhongli of Han, the Maitreya Buddha, and the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva appeared laughing heartily and said, “Sorry to interrupt! Sorry to interrupt!” In a flash, they lifted their heads to reveal the faces of Tripitaka, Zhu Bajie, and Brother Sand. Sun Wukong was shocked to discover that they had all been wearing masks. Looking back at Princess Iron Fan, he discovered that her mask had also begun to slip off, revealing that it had been the mayor himself all along, dressed up and playing a prank on Sun Wukong. Wukong asked them, “What is the meaning of all this?” In unison they all replied, “This is the ‘Masquerade Ball’!”
It is said that when the mayor of the City of Pleasant Dreams first proposed the ‘Masquerade Ball,’ Tripitaka’s disciples were incredibly pleased, especially Zhu Bajie, who said once they had returned to China, they should make a suggestion to emperor to build a couple ‘Epang Palaces’ to promote entertainment for upper classes. The mayor was rather pleased with himself, and so for the sake of entertaining his guests even further, he had a theatre built in the palace. To flatter Sun Wukong, he recruited famous actors to come to the Stage Equal of Heaven to rehearse “Water Curtain Cave” and the mayor himself gave an opening speech and unveiled the new play.
Before the main performance began, a short play, “Leopard” was performed. As expected, the actors were excellent martial artists, skilled and valiant, so that even the Great Sage Sun Wukong himself shouted praise without end.
39. 惟幕拉开“水廉洞”演出了，台上的表演，是齐天大圣训练众猴子道：“你们这些小猴子听了，如今奉我为花果山大王，大王便是父们的家长，家长的说话，你们都 要听从，原来我们猴子的心思最
But when the curtains opened on “Water Curtain Cave,” the actors on the stage, the assembled monkeys were scolded by the Great Sage, who said, “Listen close little monkeys, you are paying tribute to me as king of the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit, and the king is the patriarch of the family. You have to do whatever the patriarch says. The mental state of monkeys is renowned for being nimble, and their thoughts are also rather messy. What I’ve come here today to teach you is called, ‘See no impropriety, hear no impropriety, speak no impropriety,’ this is my ‘Doctrine of the Three Don’ts’.”
When Sun Wukong saw this he was enraged, and so he somersaulted up onto the stage, and raining fists and feet down upon the false Great Sage, beat him nearly half to death. The little monkeys were so startled that they scattered in every direction, their heads in their hands. Sun Wukong announced that, “This play totally distorts and insults the ideals I held dear back then on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit.” Whereupon he ordered them to redo the play, with Sun himself onstage, in order to redeem his reputation, and show the true situation. Upon hearing this, the audience all clapped and shouted their praise.