White Dragon Horse in Journey to The West by Wu Cheng’en

The White Dragon is transformed into the White Horse (15:30 – 20: 45)


Journey to the West is one of the four primary classical novels in the Chinese Literature. In this story with 100 chapters, the monk, Xuanzang goes to the west to obtain and bring Buddhist Scriptures to China with his three disciples, Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie, and Shā Wùjìng. Because the monk is the only human in the group and the teacher to the others, he gets to ride a white horse.

While their journey lasts more than a decade, the white horse does not last very long.

In chapter 15, the company arrives at a big stream and a white dragon appears out of the water to swallow the monk’s horse whole. Ironically, the white dragon, who is a son of the West Sea King and has been placed there as a punishment for destroying his father’s treasures, is supposed to help Xuanzang. Because he is hungry and bored after a long wait, the Dragon Prince has harmed the company, showing his violent temper.

For this mistake, a deity transforms the Prince into a white horse to replace the lost one. He accompanies the others for the journey and back to China. As a reward, he regains his original status and body at the end. Interestingly, he transforms back  temporarily to fight a demon lord who imprisons his rider/master in chapter 30.

Because of the novel’s importance in China’s popular culture, the Dragon Horse has  become a well-known stereotype. He is an indispensable aid to the heroes, strong, loyal, and able to outrun most monsters.



Wu, C. E. (16th century). Journey to the West. (A. C. Yu, Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago. (Translated into English & published as two volumes in 1952).


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