Sha Wujing, also known as Sha-hesang (in Chinese: 沙和尚, the "sand priest"), is one of the main protagonists of the 1592 classic Chinese novel Journey to the West by the late Wu Cheng'en, and its multiple adaptations. However, during his first appearances in the story, he is a villain, though this was short-lived and he soon became a hero once joined Xuanzang's group.
In the classic 1986 series, he was portrayed by the late Yan Huaili, who also played the Bull King during the latter's earlier scenes in the same series, in season 1 and Liu Dagang in season 2.
As a demon in Liusha-he, Sha Wujing has a red beard and his head was partially bald, wears a necklace consisting of skulls. As Xuanzang's student, he has black hair, wearing a Buddhist pilgrim's robe. He often carries the weapon he had in Heaven, a magic wooden staff created by Lu Ban. Wujing's appearance is considered to be ugly and terrible, to the point that seeing him could scare a normal mortal human.
As a demon in Liusha-he, Sha Wujing is a typical barbarian who likes to capture and eat humans, without any mercy. However, as Xuanzang's follower, Wujing was actually kind-hearted and loyalty, and likely the most polite one among the three.
Like Zhu Bajie, Sha Wujing was originally a general in Heaven, a Curtain-Lifting General (卷帘大将). For unknown reason (most sources said it was an accident), he destroyed a valuable vase of the Jade Emperor, caused the latter to exile him to Earth, where he was to be reincarnated as a terrible man-eating sand demon, he lived in the Liusha-he (流沙河, "flowing-sand river", or "quicksand-river"), captured and ate humans days by days. Among his victims, there are nine monks, whose skulls kept floating on the river, instead of sinking into the river like others. Due to this, he strung them into a necklace with a rope and played with them whenever he was bored. At one point, he met the Bodhisattva Guanyin and was told by her to wait for being the monk Xuanzang's student and guardian, in order to make up for his past crimes. She also gave him the name Sha Wujing.
When Wujing finally met Xuanzang, he was mistaken for an enemy and attacked by Sun Wukong and Zhu Bajie. Afterwards, with Wukong's request, the Bodhisattva Guanyin arrived to clear things up, and Wujing finally became the third student of Xuanzang, who called him Sha-hesang, gave him a Buddhist pilgrim's robe. Sha Wujing then turned his skull-necklace into a boat to help the group travelling across the Liusha-he.
From that point onwards, Sha Wujing is now a hero.
Powers and Abilities
Though being weaker than Wukong or Bajie, Sha Wujing is still a great warrior, can use both his intellect and strength. He learned only 18 Di Sha transformations, less than Sun Wukong (who has 72 Di Sha transformations) and Zhu Bajie (who has 36 Di Sha transformations). Wujing is armed with his famous weapon, the magic wooden staff.
- His surname Sha ("sand") was taken from his river-home, while his Buddhist name Wujing means "awakened to purity" or "aware of purity".
- There are a theory speculated that the nine monks on which that Sha Wujing killed is actually Xuanzang's previous nine incarnations. If so, it would make Sha Wujing technically the only demon in Journey to the West to succeeded in eating Xuanzang, ironically since he never intended to do it.