Friday, December 3, 2010

Monkey Mania

I decided to start this blog to have someplace to store my musings and ideas that aren't convenient to share via Facebook or email.  I pity my friends who will now be subjected to this.

My first topic is my obsession with the Monkey King, and how to make a Monkey King costume.  I've been interested in the Monkey King for a number of years, but my interest has only increased since I started learning Mandarin.  I can't wait until I can read well enough to read it in the original language (even if I'll probably be reading a children's book).  

I'm not sure what it is I find so appealing about Monkey.  But I guess that doesn't really matter.  I like him.  I want to watch every tv show and movie adaptation of his story, read every comic book.  I've got a rapidly increasing collection of Monkey King objects and images.  Now my costumemania rears its ugly head:  I must have a Monkey costume.  I'm not sure how I'm going to achieve this, since I don't sew and don't have any intention of learning to sew.  But right now I'm just in the concept phase.

If I could have any costume I want, I'd want one to look like this:
 But this costume is pretty elaborate and would be both difficult and expensive to reproduce.  So I guess I'll have to scale down my vision.  Maybe something simpler like this:

Monkey's costume is traditionally in primary colors, especially yellow and red.  I want to stick with that color scheme.  It's also traditional for him to be wearing a tiger skin.  One of his first acts after becoming the disciple of the monk Xuanzang is to kill a tiger and make its skin into a garment for himself.  I don't want to have a Tarzan look going on, though.  I'm contemplating just an accent of tiger skin.  For one thing, faux fur is expensive!
 The image at the top represents Monkey after he goes to coerce the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea into giving him clothing, armor, and his jingubang, his magical staff. At that point in the story he doesn't have the tiger skin yet.  The enormously long plumes on his headpiece represent phoenix feathers.  I'd kind of like to have a little headpiece, but on a smaller scale.  And of course there's the magic circlet Xuanzang gives him, which allows the monk to exercise a little control over the willful Monkey.  It's traditionally shown as having ends that curl up in a slight spiral over his forehead, as shown here: 
 Since I'm not a metalsmith, that's going to be a little bit of a challenge to create.  I'm still thinking about possible materials other than metal.  Then there's the jingubang - I don't want to make it too elaborate so that it seems out of keeping with the rest of the costume, but I also don't want it to be too plain. 

There's also Monkey's general appearance.  I'm not planning to wear a latex appliance, nor do I want to do a Beijing opera-style makeup,
 so I'll probably go for something more like the makeup below.
 It hearkens back to the Beijing opera makeup in a subtle way with the pink shading around his eyes.  I've found a wig that I think might work:
I'm not sure why Monkey is so frequently shown with golden fur, but I'll go with it.

Of course, I could just order a Monkey King costume, but where's the fun in that?  Anyway, although orange is one of my favorite colors I'm not sure I'd want to be wearing it head to foot. 

That's enough for now, I guess.  More Monkey Magic later.

1 comment:

  1. The monkey king is originated from the chinese golden monkey