Episode 6C – Bros Before Hos

Episode 6C Show Notes

Source: Chinese Mythology

This week on MYTH, we’ll continue Monkey’s epic journey to the west to retrieve Indian magic.  This is the third episode on the epic tale of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King.  If you haven’t heard the first two parts, I’d recommend going back and listening.  The first episode provides a lot of back story on the Monkey King and on the chinese cosmology, and the second is the beginning of the current story.  To summarize, Monkey was trapped by Buddha and could only be released if he served the monk Sanzang on his journey to the west to retrieve the magic sutras from India.  Along the way, getting into a stupid amount of trouble and getting out mostly through literal deus ex machina, they acquire two more disciples: Ogre and Piggy.  In this episode, you’ll learn that the ancient Chinese had some serious trust issues with women, that you should probably trust your allies over random people you just met, and that eating babies is a fantastic idea.  Then, in Gods and Monsters, you’ll hear how you can stop a hopping corpse with a rooster.  This is the Myths Your Teacher Hated podcast, where I tell the stories of cultures around the world in all of their original, bloody, uncensored glory.  Modern tellings of these stories have become dry and dusty, but I’ll be trying to breathe new life into them.  This is Episode 6C, “Bros Before Hos”.  As always, this episode is not safe for work.

  • The monk and his three companions continue traveling and see a farm in the distance.  It turns out that a widow and her three beautiful daughters live there.  The widow wants to remarry and is also looking for husbands for all three of her daughters.  Four husbands, four adventures.  The widow decides that the priest will do for her and the three monsters will do for her daughters.  They live in the middle of the goddamned wilderness, so beggars can’t be fucking choosers, I guess. 
  • The widow meets everyone on her back porch and immediately tells Sanzang this, because fuck seduction, and Sanzang politely pretends to be stone deaf and completely mute so he doesn’t have to address this awkward ass situation.  He closes his eyes and repeats to himself over and over “I’m on an important quest, this isn’t happening.  I’m on an important quest, this isn’t happening.”
  • Like Monkey in the last episode, Piggy absolutely doesn’t pick up on the subtext and keeps tugging on Sanzang’s sleeve.  “Dude, why aren’t you answering her?  We all heard her ask to marry you.  Aren’t you going to answer?  Huh?  Sanzang?  Sanzaaaaang!”
  • Stuck, Sanzang admits that he can in fact hear and speak and politely declines marriage to this strange woman.  Without a word, the woman turns around, walks back inside, and slams the door.  The adventurers are left outside without even having been offered tea and biscuits.  They wait for a bit to see if anyone else is going to come outside, maybe one of the pretty daughters, but no one does.  They go into the nearby woods and set up camp.
  • Piggy gets upset and says “Dude, you didn’t have to agree to anything.  You could have just strung her along a little until we could eat.  I’m huuuuungry.”  Apparently, it’s always said that “a monk among pretty girls is a hungry ghost”, which doesn’t seem at all applicable to the situation since Sanzang wasn’t at all interested.  Frustrated, Piggy goes to feed the horses. 
  • Or so he says.  Actually, he heads to the back of the house, where he sees the woman sitting on the back porch.  “Hey, lady!  I’ll marry a daughter.”  Bear in mind that this is a pig-faced demon.  The woman looks him over and goes “Eh, beggars can’t be choosers.  Guess I’ll leave this up to luck.  Tie this handkerchief around your head.  I’ll have my daughters walk in front of you.  The one you catch you can marry.”
  • Piggy does so, but stumble and grab though he does, he can’t catch any of the young ladies.    Suddenly, he falls to the ground bound hand and foot in tight ropes.  He squeals, but through the gag in his mouth, no one hears him.
  • The next morning, the group finds Piggy missing and goes to look for him.  They find him still tied up, but the house and the women are gone.  Instead, there’s a note.  It says “Nicely done, monk!  This was a test to see if you were dedicated to your quest, and you passed!  Piggy failed though, so he’ll need to try harder or shit’s going to get real.”
  • The group journeys on and eventually comes to the WuZhuang Temple on the Mountain of Infinite Longevity.  The temple was placed to protect a magical tree that grew from the initial chaos of the universe, before the heavens and the earth were separated.  The tree is special because of the fruit it bears: Grass-Returning Cinnabar, more commonly called manfruit. 
  • The tree take three thousand years to blossom, three thousand years to bear fruit, and three thousand years for the fruit to ripen (see, some cultures know how to properly use the rule of threes).  Only thirty fruit are produced at a time, and each fruit is shaped like a baby, complete with limbs and a face.  If you smell the fruit, you will live for three hundred and sixty years.  If you are lucky enough to eat the baby fruit while it stares at you in horror, you will live for forty-seven thousand years. 
  • On this particular day, the leader of the temple, the Great Immortal Zhen Yuan, was invited to Heaven to hear a lecture, so he naturally left the two youngest and most inexperienced disciples in charge, Pure Wind and Bright Moon.  Before he left, he told them that an old friend was coming by that day, and that they should offer him two man-fruits as a token of friendship. 
  • When Sanzang comes by, they offer him the fruit.  “Holy shit, are you seriously asking me to eat a baby?  You can’t possibly be that hungry.  I can run to the store and get groceries if it’s that bad!”  The fruits do not last long after being picked, the boys each eat one instead of explaining the completely understandable mistake to the monk.
  • Piggy overhears the whole conversation, and goes to Monkey since he has a reputation for obtaining different forms of immortality (as we’ve already seen).  He tells Monkey that a golden rod is needed to knock the fruits down, so Monkey steals it from the temple with no difficulty.  He promptly sneaks into the garden and knock a fruit down.  He jumps to the ground to eat it (you can never be too immortal, after all), but the fruit is gone. 
  • Monkey does the only logical thing and summons the god of the garden.  “I knocked down a fruit, but now it’s gone.  It’s fucking gone, man.  What the fuck?”  The god tells Monkey that the fruits fear the five elements.  “If they meet metal, they fall.  If the meet wood, they rot.  If they meet water, they dissolve.  If they meet fire, they burn (duh).  And if they meet earth, they sink into it.  To pick the fruit, you must knock it down with the metal rod and catch it in a wooden basket lined with silk. 
  • Monkey scurries back up the tree and knocks three more down, catching them with his jacket.  He then scampers into the kitchen, and he, Piggy, and Ogre all eat one.  So now they’re all even more long lived.
  • The two boys quickly discover that some of the fruit is missing, because when you only have thirty magical fruits every nine thousand years, you count that shit.  Since the monk and his disciples are the only ones around, they get (rightly) accused of the theft.  Monkey sheepishly admits to doing the deed.  The two boys yell at the priest for letting his acolyte defile a magical tree.
  • Although this is honestly pretty reasonable, it pisses Monkey off.  He pulls a hair from his head and breathes it into an Imitation Monkey.  The Shadow Clone Monkey runs off into the garden and, with his shadow clone iron rod, knocks off every fruit, then uses his super strength to overturn the tree, ruining one of the oldest things in creation.  If there had been a table, Monkey would have flipped it.  Sanzang decides it’s time to leave.
  • The Great Immortal comes home to find that shit is fucked.  The boys hastily tell him it wasn’t their fault, and point him in Monkey’s direction.  The Immortal travels on a quote “beam of auspicious light that allows him to travel 300 miles in an instant”, so basically, magical teleport.  He confronts Monkey, who lies bald faced and says he’s never even heard of Temple What’s its Fuck and he’s certainly never been there. 
  • The Great Immortal laughs and says “Do you really think I’m that easy to fool, asshole?  I know it was you.  Bring back the tree.”  Monkey takes a swing, but the immortal easily parries it, then performs the “Wrapping Heaven and Earth in his Sleeve Trick” and sweeps everyone back to the temple.  He tells Monkey to revive the tree or face punishment.
  • Monkey isn’t a super-powered living avatar of chaos for nothing, so he has an idea.  He goes to visit the divine incarnations of three stars, the Star of Longevity, the Star of Blessings, and the Star of Office, but none know how to revive the tree.  He tries an immortal known as Lord Emperor of Eastern Glory with no better luck.  He tries the Nine Ancients in Yangzhou without success. 
  • He had hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but it has, so he heads to Kuan-Yin for help.  Going for contrite, he bows to her and tells her what happened (making the whole thing seem a great accident).  “You fucking ape,” she says back.  “You have the shittiest morality I’ve ever seen.  That tree is the life-root from the time when Heaven and Earth were separated, and Master Zhen Yuan is the patriarch of the earth’s immortals, so even I have to show him respect.  Why the fuck did you knock over the me-damned tree?”
  • Monkey digs his toes in the dirt.  “I dunno.  I was mad.  I’ve been all over creation asking the gods and immortals how to fix it, but they’re all useless assholes, which is why I worship you, goddess.  Surely you have the power that these other dick heads don’t to help me get the monk back on his holy quest. 
  • She sighs heavily.  “Fine, Monkey.  You really should have come to me first.  Take the dew in that vase over there. It’s a cure for magic trees and plants, so it should do the trick.  Monkey grabbed the vase and scampered off behind Kuan-Yin. 
  • She has him stretch out his hand, and she writes a spell for reviving the dead on his palm.  He then places his hand on the roots until water comes out and forms a pool.  “The water can’t be touched by the five elements, Monkey, so you’ll need to use a jade ladle to scoop up the water.  Prop up the tree, then pour the water over the whole thing to mend it.  He does so, and the tree quickly revives, complete with 23 man fruits.  The Great Immortal is pleased, and knocks down 10 of the fruits.  Sanzang, finally figuring out that these are not actual babies, accepts the offer to eat one.
  • Sanzang and his group journey on and come to a mountain.  They stop and make camp, unaware that they are being watched by an evil spirit that lives on the mountain.  It rides on the wind and watches the group.  “Holy shit!  That’s the fucking Tang Monk that everybody’s talking about.  Rumor says he’s headed to get the sutras.  He’s a reincarnation of the Golden Cicada and has an Original Soul that’s been purified through 10 lives!  Dude dude dude dude duuuude!  If I eat him, I’ll be immortal.  Fuck yeah!”
  • He sees Monkey, Piggy, and Ogre, and decides he doesn’t want to fight them, so he’ll try being sneaky instead.  He drops into a hollow and transforms into a beautiful woman with quote “a face as round as the moon and as pretty as a flower.”  Do with that what you will. 
  • Sanzang sees a beautiful woman coming towards him with an earthenware pot in her hand but Monkey, having burned his eyes in Episode 6A, can see the true forms of demons and recognizes an evil spirit when he fucking sees one.  “Hey holy man, that chick’s no good.  She’s an evil spirit trying to make an ass out of you.”  He slaps the woman in the face.  The fiend uses its magic to go incorporeal but leave a dead body behind.  Given Monkey’s tendency to murder shit, Sanzang thinks he’s just straight up bitch slapped a woman to death. 
  • Monkey thinks he killed the fiend and says “Eh, fuck it.  Let’s see what was in the pot.”  They expected rice, but instead found it was full of frogs and centipedes.  Sanzang is starting to think that maybe Monkey was right after all, but Piggy pipes up to say “Holy shit, Monkey!  That was a country girl we met a little while back.  She was bringing food out to the fields!  You’re just using your magic to change the food in the jars so you don’t look guilty, asshole!”  While this is totally something Monkey would do, he’s being honest this time, and there’s no one quite so self righteous as a liar who isn’t believed when he’s telling the truth.  “Shut your fat face, ass hat!  I did nothing of the sort.” 
  • Sanzang, now convinced of Monkey’s guilt again, recites the headband tightening spell and causes Monkey to collapse in pain.  While he’s writhing, the evil spirit returns again disguised as an old woman.  In the midst of his pain, Monkey again lashes out at the demon, not realizing that this is part of the trick.  Again, the demon escapes in time and leaves behind a body.  Deciding that this is too much fun, the demon returns again, disguised as an old man.  Monkey, expecting the demon’s to pull the same stunt, lashes out like lightning and kills the demon.  Unfortunately, it stays stuck in the old man’s body, which drops dead.
  • Pig is dancing and laughing.  “Holy shit holy shit, you just killed three people.”  Again, monkey tells him to shut up.  “Look, asshole, it’s a demon.  If it’s a person, why is the body already nothing but dusty bones?”  Sure enough, the body’s have rotted away in an instant, leaving only one set of bones.  “See, her backbone says she was Lady White Bone.” 
  • Piggy laughs.  “Seriously?  Her name is written on her bones?  He’s making a mockery of you, mister priest.”  Sanzang is furious and has Ogre write up a letter of dismissal for Monkey.    “Here it is in writing.  Get out of my sight, murderer.”  Monkey shrugs and hops on his could to go back to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit where his people live.
  • When he gets there, he is horrified to find that instead of the 47,000 monkeys he expected, there are only 1,000.  Since he’s been gone (remember, he was trapped for 500 years), hunters have come every year.  The story goes into unnecessarily details explanations of all of the ways the monkey were killed and exactly how they were then prepared and eaten by the hunters.  Apparently, tearing their names out only spared them from natural deaths.  Monkey is glad he took the extra precautions that he has for himself, but is furious for his people. He charges off to kill every last motherfucker.
  • Meanwhile, Piggy and Ogre go looking for food, so Sanzang goes out for a walk.  He sees a dazzling golden light, which turns out to be the roof of a golden pagoda situated in a cave.  Naturally, Sanzang wanders inside to see what’s up, and naturally, he gets captured by the demons that are, of course, living inside.  You’d think he’d expect this kind of thing by now. 
  • Ogre and Piggy are worried when they get back and Sanzang isn’t around, so they track him to the pagoda.  Piggy, walks up, raises his rake and yells “Open up!”  He’s not one for the element of surprise, I guess.
  • The demon Yellow Robe appears at the gate and says “Why the fuck should we, monk?  Who the fuck are you?”  Piggy yells back “I’m your daddy. You’ve got my boss, a priest sent by the Great Tang on a holy mission.  Send him out so I don’t have to waste my time breaking him out through your shattered body with my rake.”  The demon laughs.  “No worries.  We’ve just laid a meal of human flesh dumplings out for him.  Why don’t you come have some too?”
  • Piggy thinks that sounds fine and starts to enter, but Ogre grabs him. “Are you completely mental?  He’s fucking with you.  I mean really, he literally offered you human flesh.”  Piggy, you’ll soon realize, is an idiot.  He figures out he’s being tricked after explicitly being told he’s being tricked and gets mad.  He swings his rake at the demon.
  • Sanzang, imprisoned deeper in the cave, sees a woman emerge from even deeper in the cave.  Both quickly assert that they are prisoners and totally not demons.  She tells the priest that she is Prettier than a Flower (seriously, that’s her name) and that she is the third daughter of the king of Elephantia.  13 years ago, an evil monster snatched her away in a whirlwind while she was admiring the moon (maybe it’s one of the handmaids from the folktale from Episode 5) and was forced to be his wife ever since.  He’s spent the last 13 years raping her and she’s borne many sons and daughters, but even though he calls her his wife, he won’t let her contact her family. If Sanzang will agree to take a letter to her dad, she’ll get the monster to spare his life.  He agrees.
  • Ogre and Piggy have been pretty thoroughly beaten by the monster, and are still outside.  The princess pulls some serious Shaharizad shit (the story teller from 1001 Arabian nights) and convinces the demon to let him go.  Sanzang and his two acolytes travel to Elephantia.  “Holy shit, my daughter is alive?  And being raped, like, a lot by a demon.  Can you guys save her?”  Without consulting the group, Piggy volunteers immediately.  Ogre sighs and agrees to go too. 
  • They dash off on their own version of the cloud jump and fight the demon Yellow Robe again.  Piggy feels a sudden need to take a shit like right the fuck now, so he goes off into the bushes to do so, leaving Ogre alone in the fight.  That’s really what happens.  Ogre is quickly captured.  The demon is surprised that the king still wants his daughter back (because demon) so he transforms himself into a handsome young man and goes off to meet his father in law.
  • He tells the king that 13 years ago, he was out hunting when he saw a tiger carrying a woman on his back.  He shot the tiger out from under her, and drove it off, then carried her to his home to tend to her wounds.  “I asked her where she was from, but she never said she was a princess.  If I’d have know, o mighty king, I never would have married her without permission.  But since she was just a normal girl, I went ahead and got married since we were in love.  I wanted to kill the tiger as a wedding gift, but your daughter asked me not to.  She’s such a sensitive soul.  I should have done it, though, because apparently he’s become an evil spirit bent on deceiving and killing people.  I heard about a priest on a mission from the Great Tang, but the tiger demon killed him and took his credentials.  I followed him here, and I fear he is hiding under your roof now, o king.”  He pointed dramatically at Sanzang.  “That man is no man!  He’s the tiger that tried to kill your daughter 13 years ago.”
  • Now to most people, this sounds like a pretty ridiculous lie.  The king, however, is feeble minded and totally buys it.  “Oh fuck.  Turn him back to his original form so I can see it!”  The demon is prepared for this and casts a spell on Sanzang, making him look like a tiger to everyone in the palace.  The king has a banquet set for the monster for saving his daughter from the dangerous tiger.  The demon proceeds to get thoroughly drunk and decides to have fun.  For him, this means grabbing a woman playing the lute and biting a chunk out of her skull.  The 17 other palace women flee in panic.  Their story mixes with the news that the priest is really a demon.  This does not look good for the poor priest.
  • And with that, it’s time for Gods and Monsters.  This is a segment where I get into a little more detail about the personalities and history of one of the gods or monsters from this week’s pantheon that was not discussed in the main story.  This week’s monster is the Jiangshi, also known as the hopping zombie.
  • If you’ve watched any Hong Kong horror movies from the 80s or 90s, you might have seen a pale vampire/zombie hybrid dressed in the old-fashioned clothes of the Qing Dynasty hopping after the protagonists.  In a lot of depictions, they have a paper talisman, often with a sealing spell, attached to their foreheads.  These are the jiangshi, corpses turned stiff with rigor mortis but brought back into an unholy state of unlife.  Stiff with death, they are unable to move beyond a hop, like an undead pogo stick, usually with it’s arms outstretched for balance. 
  • Their skin is usually greenish-white with decay, and their existence can be caused by a number of things, including improper burial, magical rituals, suicide, or demonic possession. 
  • As with a lot of supernatural beasties, there’s actually a fairly rational explanation for its existence.  During the Qing Dynasty (which lasted from 1644 to 1912), it was common for migratory laborers toiling far from home to be sent home for a proper burial when they died.  It was believed that their departed spirits would grow homesick and wander the countryside otherwise.  Since migratory farmers were universally poor as shit, they couldn’t afford transportation.  Instead, they would hire a corpse driver to do the job with necromancy, which hardly seems dignified.
  • According to legend, the corpse drivers would magically bind the corpse’s wrists, ankles, and knees.  They would then force it upright and prod it along with a long stick to force the corpse to hop home under its own necromantic power.  In other stories, the necromancers would use drums to provide the prodding instead.  The corpse drivers would travel at night to minimize decay and would have a priest at the head of the procession ringing a bell as warning to everyone nearby.  It was considered bad luck to look on a jiangshi, even if it was under control, so no one wanted to chance it.
  • Of course, what was really happening is that the corpse drivers would take the bound corpses and hang them sideways from bamboo poles to stack as many as possible from a single pole.  Two men would carry each pole on their shoulders, and the flexing of the pole would cause the bodies to bounce as they walked.  When viewed from afar in the darkness, it would look like the corpses were hopping.  Sometimes, if there were fewer corpses, each man would carry one corpse on his back with a man at the front lighting the way with a lantern and calling out obstacles.
  • Modern interpretations have them sucking blood like their cousins the vampires, but traditionally, they would feed directly off of the chi, or life force energy.  They are ravenous beings with an insatiable appetite for humans.  Like vampires, they generally hide in coffins or caves during the day to avoid decomposition, and only come out at night. 
  • It generally takes decades fora jiangshi to form and become animate, which might explain why they are typically in clothing from the Qing dynasty.  Of course, the anti Manchu and anti-Qing sentiments of the Han population during the Qing dynasty could also explain why the blood suckers with no regard for humanity are usually depicted as Qing bureaucrats.
  • Fortunately, the Chinese are more sensible with their monsters than the norse are, so their are a lot of ways to protect yourself from a jiangshi.  These include letting it see itself in a mirror (since naturally, jiangshi are terrified of their own reflections), beating it off with a staff made from the wood of a peach tree (as we’ve already seen, peaches are seen as the essence of good and life), dousing it in vinegar, and driving it off with a rooster (since the rooster’s call is associated with sunrise and it apparently doesn’t know any better).  Or, you can use jujube seeds, the hooves of a black donkey, rice, beans, a bell, the blood of a black dog, a stonemason’s awl, an axe, a broom, or fucking holding your breath.  Seriously, these things are so easy to beat it’s a wonder that any of the movies can make them scary.

That’s it for this episode of Myth Your Teacher Hated.  Keep up with new episodes on our Facebook page, on iTunes, on Stitcher or on TuneIn, or you can follow us on Twitter as @HardcoreMyth.  You can also find news and episodes on our website at myths your teacher hated dot com.  If you like what you’ve heard, I’d appreciate a review on iTunes, since it helps increase the show’s standing and let more people know it exists.  If you have any questions, any gods or monsters you’d want to learn about, or any ideas for future stories that you’d like to hear, feel free to drop me a line.  I’m trying to pull as much material from as many different cultures as possible, but there are all sorts of stories I’ve never heard, so suggestions are appreciated.  The theme music is by Tiny Cheese Puff, whom you can find on fiverr.com.

Next time, we’ll be continuing with the story of the Monkey King.  The story is going to keep getting more ridiculous.  You’ll learn why Monkey is a bad friend to Piggy, why the gods need to be more careful about not losing their magic shit, and that the ancient Chinese really had a problem with women wanting to have sex.  That’s all for now.  Thanks for listening.