- To tell a folk tale that is entertaining and enjoyable for a specific age group.
- To use vivid imagery and voice to enhance the tale.
- TIME : 7 to 9 minutes
Note to the Evaluator:
The purpose of this talk was for the speaker to tell, not read, a folk tale. The speaker should not act out the story, but instead interpret it for the audience, using voice and imagery. It is suggested you read the entire project before the presentation.
When I was trying to come up with a folk tale to tell I searched up Cambodian folk tales, German folk tales and even Zen Buddhist folktales. However a random search in one of the buddhist folk tales I cam across the story of The Monkey King!
What makes this story so special was that I spent a good part of my childhood rushing home, completing my homework so I then could gloriously lounge on the coach and watch my favorite TV show of all time.
This was a gloriously dubbed, highly kitsch, funny and entertaining TV series about the antics of Monkey and his companions as they brought back the scriptures from India back to China.
There was of couse Monkey and his kung fu antics, Pigsy always trying to woo maidens (unsuccessfully) and gorge himself on food, Sandy a rather sullen river monster, Tipitaka a young male monk (weirdly played by a highly attractive woman) and later a dragon/horse/ man.
It’s very out dated now but like everything thats what nostalgia as for… look out below for the theme song video below (and I dare you to not start dancing!)
Listen and follow me tell the abbreviated version of the Monkey King’s beginnings below…
The Monkey King
A long, long time ago, far across the Eastern Sea, on an island called the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit, a magic boulder had sat on the mountain’s peak since the creation of the world. Bathed in the energies of Earth and Heaven, quickened by the light of Sun and Moon, the stone became magically fertile.
One day from this stone egg emerged a full-grown stone monkey! The monkey solemnly bowed at the four corners of the earth – and then jumped off to have some fun. The nature of Monkey was irrepressible! He was high spirited, egotistical and full of mischievous pranks. In no time Monkey was soon King of the Apes.
Many years later in the Heavenly Cave of the Water Curtain, the island monkeys were feasting to celebrate the birthday of their king. But the Monkey King himself sat there gloomily.
You see what his monkey minions couldn’t see was that inside a niggling worry began to gnaw at him — one which would change his life. You see, the Monkey King feared Death.
Determined to find immortality Monkey went on a quest.
First he located a rather cranky immortal sage who taught him Kung fu, how to transform into 72 things and most impressively how to fly on clouds.
Secondly he found and bullied the Dragon King who lived at the bottom of the 7 seas, to give him the great Magic Wishing Staff, a huge rod of black iron which Heaven had used to flatten the bed of the Milky Way. It weighed 13,000 kgs but could expand to fill the Universe or shrink to the size of a needle.
Thirdly he tricked the God of the Dead to strike all of his fellow monkeys off the Quick and Dead List, making them immortal.
It wasn’t long before reports of MONKEY’s tricks started to reach the austere ears of the JADE-EMPEROR – the ruler of the universe.
Not wishing to shed needless karma, the JADE-EMPEROR invited MONKEY to Heaven and gave him a job and the title of Great Sage, Equal Of Heaven. Without pay, of course. This plan to keep the peace was amazingly successful… for an entire 24 hours.
By his very nature the Great Sage was irrepressibly naughty. He just couldn’t help it. Things came to a peak when Monkey snuck into the Jade Emperor’s sacred Peach garden and gobbled up all of the Peaches of Immortality, in the process making himself immortal. These peaches were meant for a banquet for the gods who would be served the Peaches of Immortality with the Liquor of Longevity. Well before the party was about to start Monkey got wasted on the Liquor of Longevity! And in his drunkenness he cracked onto the Jade Emperor’s wife!
Well, the JADE-EMPEROR finally lost his esteemed cool. He sent the Heavenly army to obliterate MONKEY once and for all. A massive battle ensued between heaven and Monkey. But the Great Stone Ape — immortal, and now filled with Heavenly essences and a slight hangover— was not only indestructible but also pretty handy in a fight. In short the army of Heaven got a thumping! Defeated but not giving up — the Ruler of Heaven had only one last person to call – he called for BUDDHA.
Outside the Cloud Palace of the Golden Doors, Monkey marched up and down, swinging his staff, till his patience ran out.
“Urgh! If you don’t open these gates right now” he yelled at the western gates of Heaven. “I’m coming in!”
But just as he stepped forward, a magic cloud landed in front of him. Off it stepped a huge man in the robe of a monk.
“What’s this?” said Monkey. “Who are you, old monk, and why are you standing in my way?”
The man laughed. “I am Siddhartha, often called the Buddha. I am told you call yourself the Great Sage Equal to Heaven and even demand the Jade Emperor’s place on the Celestial Throne.”
“That’s right,” said Monkey. “He’s been there long enough. Someone else should get a turn.”
“The Jade Emperor,” said the Buddha, “has been perfecting himself through four million lifetimes, for over two hundred million years. And you’re not yet even fully human! What makes you think you’re suited to rule Heaven and Earth?”
“I have great powers,” said Monkey. “I’ve mastered the Seventy-Two Changes. And I can travel for hundreds of kilometres with a single somersault!”
“Impressive Monkey!” said the Buddha. “Then could you stand on the palm of my hand and somersault clear out of it?”
Monkey stared at the Buddha. “Enlightenment must have fried your brain! I just said I can somersault hundreds of kilometers in the air. How could I not jump out of your palm?”
“Then lets make a wager,” said the Buddha. “If you get off my palm with a single somersault, the Celestial Throne will be yours. I’ll just tell the Jade Emperor to come live with me in the Western Paradise. But if you don’t make it off my palm, you’ll return to Earth and leave Heaven alone.”
“You can make good on your promise?” asked Monkey.
“Certainly, I am the Buddha” said the Buddha.
“Then you’re on!”
Monkey put away his staff and jumped onto the Buddha’s palm, which was the size of a lotus leaf. Then he gave the mightiest leap of his life.
Shooting up into the air Head over heels Monkey tumbled high into the sky, spinning like a windmill for hundreds, if not thousands of kilometers. At last he came to a place where he saw five massive pillars breaching the clouds reaching high into the sky.
“This must be the end of Heaven,” he told himself, and he landed at the base of the middle pillar. “That bet wasn’t hard to win. But I’d better leave behind some proof.”
So on the pillar Monkey wrote some graffitti –
MONKEY WAS HERE
And since spinning through the air thousands of kilometres made his bladder full Monkey pee-ed all over the nearest pillar.
Pleased with himself and now with an empty bladder, Monkey gave one last look at his handiwork and with another mighty leap, Monkey jumped back to claim his reward, moments later landing back in the Buddha’s palm.
“All right, old monk,” said Monkey. “Now keep your part of the bargain and tell the Jade Emperor to clear out.”
The Holy One raised a sublime eyebrow. “Oh really? I don’t know why you’re grinning,” he said, “you’ve been on my palm the whole time.”
“What are you talking about?” said Monkey. “I somersaulted clear to the end of Heaven! If you don’t believe me, come see the proof for yourself.”
“There’s no need to go anywhere,” said the Buddha. “Just look down.”
Monkey looked down, and there at the base of the Buddha’s middle finger were the characters:
MONKEY WAS HERE and the distinct smell of monkey urine.
“It can’t be!” declared Monkey. “It’s some kind of trick! I’m going back to look for myself.”
But before Monkey could leap again, the Buddha turned his hand over, thrust Monkey out the West Gate of Heaven, and pushed him down to Earth. The hand turned into a five-peaked mountain which pinned Monkey between stone walls. His head and arms were out, but the rest of him was hopelessly trapped.
“You can’t do this to me!” cried Monkey. “I’m the Monkey King! I’m an Immortal! I’m the Great Sage Equal to Heaven! Let me out!”
And there Monkey stayed for five hundred long years, which time, the Great Sage Equal of Heaven learnt how to be a much more thoroughly humble creature.
But that wasn’t the end of monkey, or the end to his mischief and adventures but those are other tales best left for another time…