Monkey God

The figurine shown here is an old temple deity which portrays the Monkey God in a typical style. He is holding his staff, known as the Ru Yi Bang (literally, ‘as you will cudgel’), a weapon that changes size according to the will of the user, and a Peach of Immortality which he stole from the Queen mother of the West (Xi Wang Mu, 西王母). His red face and golden eyes give him the ability to recognise evil in any form. The Monkey God is derived from the character Sun Wukong (孙悟空) in the Chinese classic, ‘Journey to the West’ but most likely has even deeper roots back to the Hindu deity Hanuman. Although known formally as Qitian Dasheng ( 齐天大圣, literally, ‘Great Sage Equal to Heaven’), he is referred to more colloquially by Peranakans as Tai Seng Ya.

Early 20th century
Object size: L15 x W13.5 x H26.5 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum

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