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Zhu Bajie (Pigsy)

By จ่างหมิง - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,, Zhu Bajie
By จ่างหมิง – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Zhu Bajie, is one of the three helpers of Xuanzang in the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West.

Zhu Bajie is a complex character he looks like a terrible monster, part human and part pig, who often gets himself and his companions into trouble by his laziness, his gluttony, and his propensity for lusting after pretty women. He is jealous of Wukong and always tries to bring him down. His name “Zhu Wuneng”, means “pig who rises to power”, a reference to the fact that he values himself so much as to forget his own grisly appearance.  He is often seen as the most outgoing of the group.


Zhu Bajie originally held the title of Marshall of the Heavenly Canopy commander-in-chief of 80,000 Heavenly Navy Soldiers. When Sun Wu Kong was born, he was a giant demon. Tianpéng Yuánshuai defeated him and he was granted his present title. He was later banished, however, for misbehaviour. At a party organized for all the significant figures in Heaven, Bajie saw the Goddess of the Moon for the first time and was captivated by her beauty. Following a drunken attempt to get close to her, she reported this to the Jade Emperor and thus he was banished to Earth. In some retellings of the story, his banishment is linked to Sun Wukong’s downfall. In any case, he was exiled from Heaven and sent to be reincarnated on Earth, where by mishap he fell into a pig farm and was reborn as a man-eating pig-monster known as Zhu Gangliè ( the “steel-maned pig”).

In the earlier portions of Journey to the West, Wukong and Xuanzang come to Gao village and find that a daughter of the village elder had been kidnapped and the abductor left a note demanding marriage. After some investigations, Wukong found out that Bajie was the “villain” behind this. He fought with Wukong, but ended the fight when he learned that Wukong is a servant of Xuanzang, revealing that he had been recruited by Guanyin to join their pilgrimage and make atonements for his sins (those that had got him thrown out of Heaven, and the many he had racked up since).

Like his fellow disciples, Bajie has supernatural powers. He knows 36 transformations. Like his fellow disciple, Sha Wujing, his combat skills underwater are superior to that of Wukong. The novel makes use of constant alchemical imagery and Bajie is most closely linked to the Wood element, as seen by another one of his nicknames, Mùmu (“Wood-Mother”).

At the end of the novel, most of Bajie’s fellow pilgrims achieve enlightenment and become buddhas or arhats, but he does not; although much improved, he is still too much a creature of his base desires. He is instead rewarded for his part in the pilgrimage’s success with a job as “Cleanser of the Altars” and all the leftovers he can eat.

As a weapon, he wields a jiuchi-dingpá, a nine-tooth (jiuchi) iron muck-rake (dingpá) from Heaven that weighs roughly 5,048 kilos (or roughly 11,129 pounds).

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