Tang Sanzang

Tang Sanzang

Tang Sanzang (in Chinese: 唐三藏), also known as Xuanzang (in Chinese: 玄奘) and Tripitaka (in Chinese: 三藏經), is one of the main protagonists in the 16th-century Chinese classic novel Journey to the West by the late Wu Cheng'en, and its multiple adaptations. He is a Buddhist monk who had renounced his family to join the Sangha from childhood. His name reflects his status as a oath brother of Emperor Taizong. And is a reincarnation of Golden Cicada, which was the Buddha’s second ever disciple. He also appears in the film Doraemon: The Record of Nobita's Parallel Visit to the West as one of the supporting protagonists. He is one of the most popular Journey to the West heroes, alongside Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie, and Sha Wujing.


Tang Sanzang is composed after the historical Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang, whose life is inspired by the book; the true Xuanzang made a dangerous journey by walking from China to India (and back) to get the silk Buddhism.

In contrast to historical Xuanzang, a clever and learned scholar (he was in his late 20's when he left India), the fictional Tang Sanzang was presented as a young monk who was very naive, showing idealistic compassion without wisdom. Tang Sanzang is usually quick to fall for the facades of demons who disguised themselves as innocent people, while Sun Wukong can see through them with his Huo Yan Jin Jing (in Chinese:火眼金睛). This often led to tension when Sun Wukong attacks and kills seem to be innocent when the demon actually only abandoned the corpse and fled. A popular example is when White Bone Demon is confined to three times as family members - first, a girl who was carrying a basket of steamed buns. After Wukong "killed" the girl, Baigujing escaped, but Wukong is also punished by Tang Sanzang for it. The second is the older mother of the girl, looking for her daughter. The third is the older father of the maiden, looking for his wife and son. In the "death" of Wukong's father's hands, Wukong is eventually killed the demon before he left. Tang Sanzang, convinced that Wukong actually killed three innocent people, that was sent him away back to Mount Huaguo, despite the protests. Tang Sanzang usually afflicts him by singing the words of a headache illness provided by Sanzang's bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin) to control the Wukong, causing the headband to late in the contract and give he has a severe headache.

As Sun Wukong is often worshiped as a god protector, so is Tang Sanzang. Ksitigarbha, a highly revered bodhisattva in East Asian Buddhism, is occasionally mistaken for Tang Sanzang because the former is often described as Tang Sanzang - with a coincidental costume, wearing a crown of Buddhism, and with a khakkhara.


  • He is based on the historical Buddhist monk Xuanzang.
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