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Monkey King Tattoo: Meaning

Getting a Monkey King tattoo can be an interesting accessory in people’s lives. It can be a symbol of resourcefulness, rebellion to authority, a passion for martial arts, perseverance, and bravery. 

The Monkey King, also known as Sun Wukong, is a character from the Chinese novel Journey to the West (Xi You Ji), which was first published in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty.

It is one of the most representative legends in Chinese culture.

Wukong is also found in many later adaptations and stories.

In the West, we have the Grimms’ Fairy Tales; however, in China, there is the legend of the Monkey King.

Both have similar popularity. He is one of China’s most successful cultural exports.

He’s a monkey born from a stone that had sat on a mountaintop since the dawn of creation, possesses magical strength, and can run with the speed of a meteor — he could cover 108,000 li (54,000 km) in one leap.Monkey King Tattoo on shoulder

The Monkey King can also transform into 72 different objects and animals. For Chinese readers, he embodies heroism and fun.

He is not related to the Hindu god Hanuman — the monkey god of the epic Ramayan.

If you are thinking about getting a Monkey King tattoo, below are several meanings.

Monkey King Tattoo – Meanings:

They Can Symbolize A Passion For Martial Arts

Monkey King tattoo on back

Monkey King tattoo on back

Martial arts is a passion. Many got into martial arts for self-defense reasons — as a means to defend themselves and their family.

Over the years of practice, these reasons can change. And, from self-defense, it became a passion. Just like Sun Wukong, who is a skilled martial artist and has hundreds of years of practice.

Training in martial arts can teach practitioners more than self-defense. Martial arts is a way of life, not just a sport. You can learn about the importance of mental strength, mindfulness, full body workout, and self-exploration.

Monkey King Tattoo on wrist

Monkey King Tattoo on wrist

If you have a good teacher (a Sensei, as they call it in Japanese martial arts), you’ll learn this from the very first lesson. The Monkey King’s first teacher was Patriarch Subodhi, who is believed to be a bodhisattva — one who seeks awakening in Buddhism.

At some point, Patriarch Subodhi taught Sun Wukong the 72 transformations to avoid the punishment from heaven to destroy his for achieving eternal life. The “Multitude of Terrestrial Killers” is the name for these 72 transformations.

Rebellion To Heavenly Authoritymonkey king tattoo forearm

The Monkey King is rebellious. For his rebellion against heaven, Sun Wukong was imprisoned by the Buddha for 500 years.

If you have a Monkey King tattoo or are thinking about getting one, it may be because of your rebellious side.

So, are you a born rebel? Did you sneak out at night occasionally during your teenage years? Do you question everything? If year, then a Monkey King tattoo may be just what you need.monkey king dragon tattoo

A Determined Personality

Determination is another character trait of Sun Wukong. This strong determination helped our hero to overcome several challenges and important milestones.chinese monkey king tattoo

Determination is about staying focused on a goal. “You are like a ship that has set sail with no destination,” clinical psychologist Fitzhugh Dodson said about the lack of goals.

Determination is what prevents you from quitting your targets. It’s the act of successfully pursuing a specific aim.

Where can determination take you? Well, if you are an athlete, determination helps you complete a marathon, or you want to finish a really hard project, etc. Basically, fostering determination helps you become more effective in your pursuits.

As Tommy Lasorda said — “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.”sun wukong monkey king tattoo designs

Therefore, seeing your Monkey King tattoo every day when you wake up can help you to stay on the right path.

They Can Represent The Ability To Penetrate Worldy Illusions

His eyes can penetrate illusions, just like a Buddha. However, your mind is the creator of illusions.

Living on your own illusions will only keep you trapped in them.

Life is an illusion a dream; a bubble; a shadow,” Gautama Buddha said. “Nothing is permanent.monkey king tattoo drawing

To see past illusions means you live in a state of mindfulness. If you don’t, it’s best to be mindful (live in the present moment) of your feelings and thoughts.

So, if you have a Monkey King tattoo, can it help you see through illusions? Not a chance. Vipassana meditation can make you able to “see” through the illusory existence of objects. This takes time and determination.


Self-improvement is the activity of learning new things on your own to reach your highest potential. It is all about making positive changes in your life.cambodian monkey king tattoo

Self-improvement can take months or even years; it is not a change that occurs overnight.

At the start of “Journey to the West,” the Monkey King is a mischievous character, but through his journey and training in martial arts and Buddhism, he understands the value of self-improvement.

As such, a Monkey King tattoo, like, for example, on your shoulder, is a visual representation of self-improvement.

It is like you wear a badge known only for connoisseurs, and it shows that you are on a path to self-improvement.japanese monkey king tattoo design


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