Liu Xiao Ling Tong

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Liu Xiao Ling Tong
Journey to the West on Star Reunion 58.JPG
Background information
Chinese name 六小齡童 (traditional)
Chinese name 六小龄童 (simplified)
Pinyin Lìu Xiǎo Líng Tóng (Mandarin)
Birth name Zhang Jinlai
Born (1959-04-12) 12 April 1959 (age 58)
Shanghai, China
Occupation Actor
Years active 1965–present

Zhang Jinlai (simplified Chinese: 章金莱; traditional Chinese: 章金萊; pinyin: Zhāng Jīnlái; born 12 April 1959), better known by his stage name Liu Xiao Ling Tong (literally: "Little Six Year Old Child"), is a Chinese actor best known for his role as the Monkey King (Sun Wukong) in the 1986 television series Journey to the West.


Early life and family background[edit]

Zhang was born on April 12, 1959 in Shanghai in a family of performing artists. His family members, who are Peking opera actors, specialise in playing the role of the Monkey King (Sun Wukong), the protagonist of the classical novel Journey to the West. His great-grandfather Zhang Tingchun was even considered "better than a living Monkey King".[1]

Zhang's great-grandfather, Zhang Tingchun (章廷椿), mostly performed in the countryside of Zhejiang under the stage name "Huo Hou Zhang" (活猴章).[2] Zhang's grandfather, Zhang Yisheng (章益生) with the stage name "Sai Huo Hou" (simplified Chinese: 赛活猴; traditional Chinese: 賽活猴; pinyin: Sài Huó Hóu; literally: "Better than a living monkey"),[2] moved to Shanghai and trained his two sons. Zhang's father, Zhang Zongyi, whose stage name was "Liu Ling Tong" (simplified Chinese: 六龄童; traditional Chinese: 六齡童; pinyin: Lìu Líng Tóng; literally: "Six Year Old Child"), was also famously known as "Nan Hou Wang" (Chinese: 南猴王; pinyin: Nán Hóu Wáng; literally: "Southern Monkey King"). His stage name indicated his age when he started performing. Zhang Songyi's performance was acclaimed by Chinese leaders, including Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. His specialty was Sun Wukong, gaining him the nickname "Monkey King of the South", as another actor Li Wanchun was better known in northern China. Zhang Jinlai's uncle, who specialised in playing Zhu Bajie, had the stage name "Qi Ling Tong" (simplified Chinese: 七龄童; traditional Chinese: 七齡童; pinyin: Qī Líng Tóng; literally: "Seven Year Old Child").

Zhang's elder brother used the stage name "Xiao Liu Ling Tong" (simplified Chinese: 小六龄童; traditional Chinese: 小六齡童; pinyin: Xiǎo Lìu Líng Tóng), which means "Little Six Year Old Child", or "Six Year Old Child, Junior". The role of Sun Wukong was originally offered to Zhang's elder brother, but because the latter died of leukemia in 1966, Zhang inherited their father's legacy instead. He changed his stage name slightly, to "Liu Xiao Ling Tong", which still means "Little Six Year Old Child".

Zhang tried very hard to play the role of Sun Wukong well as a dedication to the memory of his elder brother. He also helped people affected by leukemia. In 1992, China Central Television (CCTV) produced an eight-episode television series titled Hou Wa (猴娃; "monkey child") about Zhang's life.[citation needed]


Zhang gained international fame for his starring role as the Monkey King (Sun Wukong) in the 1986 television series Journey to the West, adapted from the classical novel of the same title. His compelling performance, which was greatly praised by critics, helped him win the Best Actor award at the 6th Golden Eagle Awards in 1988.[1] After that, he also appeared in other films and television series, such as New Year's Day (过年). On September 27, 2006, he was conferred the Certificate of Mouthpiece of the 3rd International Forum on China Cultural Industry.[3] Zhang reprised his role as Sun Wukong again in Wu Cheng'en and Journey to the West (吴承恩与西游记), a 2010 television series about Wu Cheng'en, author of Journey to the West, and his inspiration for writing the novel. Zhang also simultaneously portrayed Wu Cheng'en.

Zhang's recent activities mostly focus on promoting monkey culture.[1] Zhang also expressed his concern over recent Sun Wukong portrayals. He said while he was happy to see that Journey to the West, as well as other Chinese classical novels, received such attention from foreign directors, he emphasized "...such adaptation has to be based on adequate knowledge of Chinese culture." and "the Monkey King is not King Kong."[4]


  • 6th Golden Eagle Television Awards: Best Actor for Journey to the West as Sun Wukong (1988)


  1. ^ a b c Liu Xiao Ling Tong-- the "Monkey King". Dandan. Retrieved on May 22, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "六小龄童是电视剧里演得最好的猴子" (in Chinese). 28 January 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2016. 
  3. ^ Liu Xiao Ling Tong (actor of Monkey King): Mouthpiece of the 3rd International Forum on China Cultural Industry. Retrieved on May 22, 2008.
  4. ^ Foreign versions of "Journey to the West" tell a different story. Retrieved on May 22, 2008

External links[edit]