Sun Wukong Watches Prince Nezha Fight the One-horn Demon King

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

A Modern Journey to the West: Sun Wukong Watches Prince Nezha Fight the One-horn Demon King
(Tsuzoku saiyuki: Songoku, Nata Taishi, Dokkaku Daio)

signed Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi ga, with the descriptive text attributed to the writer Bokuto Ryoko on the rolled end of the emakimono-shaped cartouche, with publisher's seal Fukuta shi, Akasaka (Fukushimaya Tashichi of Senkindo), carver's seal Asakura Hori Tsune, and combined censor and date seal Ne-ju, aratame (year of the rat [1864], 10th lunar month, examined)

oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 10 1/8 in., 36 by 25.6 cm

The characters in this composition are identified as Prince Nezha (Jp. Nata Taishi) on the right brandishing his sword while battling with the One-horned Demon King (Jp. Dokkaku Daio). Sun Wukong watches from the middle distance at the right.

Chapter 5 tells of the revolt against heaven by Sun Wukong, who has been granted the title of Great Sage King. He was put in charge of the heavenly peach orchard by the Emperor of the Jade Kingdom. The orchard is divided into three sections, and peaches from each provide different powers: the twelve hundred trees in the front grant immortality, enlightenment, and strength; the twelve hundred in the middle grant eternal youth and the power of flight; and the twelve hundred in the back grant longevity 'as eternal as Heaven and Earth, as long-lived as the Sun and Moon.' Sun Wukong pilfered the orchard, and then took his fill of other wines, fruits, and elixirs of the immortals before escaping from heaven with the army of the Jade Kingdom on his tail.

This design shows a climactic moment from the subsequent battle. Led by Prince Nezha, the Jade Emperor's forces descended from heaven to fight Sun Wukong's army, consisting of seventy-two monster kings and his Four Stalwart Generals, stirring up a tempest as described in Jenner's translation:

A gusty sandstorm blotted out the heavens,
Purple fog threw the earth into darkness.
Just because the monkey fiend offended the Supreme Emperor
Heavenly hosts were sent down to the mortal dust.

When the gods broke through Sun Wukong's defenses, the One-horned Demon king led the fight against the Jade army.

Howling winds,
Dark, sinister clouds...
The Great Sage fights against the heavenly gods.

The Demon King would be defeated by Prince Nezha, and his horde captured or dispersed. Sun Wukong escaped unharmed, vowing to drink more wine and fight again another day.

Fair (ed.) 2005, pp. 62-74
MFA, Boston, accession no. 11.39784 (identified as chapter 51)



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