The University of Iowa

A Little Chinese History

November 14th, 2013

By Siqi Wang for The Daily Iowan

China has more than 5,000 years of history. Because of this, there is a lot of cultural heritage.

An example of this is the four main classical novels about Chinese history. Journey to the West, which some Americans refer to as "monkey,"  was created by Wu ChenEn in the Ming Dynasty.

The whole story is based on the Buddhist monk Xuan Zang in India and folk tales from local residents. The folk tales tell the story Tang Seng (a monk) and his three protectors, Sun WuKong (a monkey), Zhu BaJie (a pig), and Sha WuJing (a human).

Journey to the West is also divided into three different parts. The first part talks about the birth of Sun WuKong and the trouble he caused in heaven. The second part discusses the birth of Tang Seng and the reasons he decided to go to the "West World" in order to get the sacred texts. The third part talks about how Tang Seng meets all three protectors and the difficulties he faces to get the sacred texts during the Tang Dynasty.

The other three novels are Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber, and Water Margin. All four books are regarded as "must-haves" for Chinese children. 

These stories have been adapted into a television series. When I was a little girl, I first experienced these stories through the series. It was magical to watch this legendary pilgrimage about religion. In recent years, there has been a second edition of the series in addition to movies and comedies.

There are many legendary stories in the history of China, but as people continue to read and analyze these four tales, many believe they have had an effect on the current technology.

It's amazing to think that hundreds of years ago, the exaggerated imagination of this author created things like the clone before it even existed.

If you are interested in Chinese history, definitely read these books.