What wonderful weapons, what splendid treasures. I wonder whose they are and why they’ve been left here. This must be my lucky chance. I’ll take them, I’ll take them.
~ The Tawny Lion Demon's famous speech as he's stealing the weapons.

The Tawny Lion Demon (in Chinese: 黃獅精) is a lion demon king and and an antagonist of the 16th-century Chinese classic novel Journey to the West by the late Wu Cheng'en, and its multiple adaptations. He is known for stealing the weapons of Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing. He was based in Tiger's Jaws Cave (in Chinese: 虎口洞), Leopard's Head Mountain (in Chinese: 豹頭山) in the Kingdom of Yuhua.

In the 1986 classic adaptation series, he was portrayed by the series' martial arts director Xiang Han.



The Tawny Lion Demon is one of the six lion demons near the Kingdom of Yuhua. When the Grand Saint of Nine Spirits (also known as the Nine Headed Lion) ascended to their location, they revered him as their god-grandfather. Though in the 1986 series, the King of Yuhua mentioned that the Tawny Lion Demon had assaulted the kingdom numberous times, in the novel it is made clear that he never knew him before the story takes place at all.


On one night, he saw a light in the kingdom and came there to search for the source of the light, and discovered Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing's weapons. Overcome by greed, he stole them, and organized a banquet to celebrate it the next day. However, this proved to be the cause of his downfall: The owners of the weapons, disguised as his minions (and Sha Wujing as a duck owner), attacked his cave, burned it down to take back their weapons.

Angered, the Lion came to ask his god-grandfather for help, which the Grand Saint of Nine Spirits agreed. He, along with the Tawny Lion, and the other five lion demons, attack the Kingdom of Yuhua, and successfully captured Xuanzang, Bajie, Wujing and the royal family of Yuhua. However, the Tawny Lion Demon was killed during the battle. His death is the catalyst for the rest of the conflict between the protagonists and the Nine Headed Lion.

1986 series

In the 1986 series, when the Lion came to ask his god-grandfather for help, the latter refused as doing so might getting into even further trouble with Wukong, knowing the monkey to be the one who assaulted Heaven 500 years ago. The Tawny Lion went out of the Grand Saint of Nine Spirits' cave in disappointment, only to met Wukong, who laughed at him, much to the Lion's anger. The two fought, and Wukong managed to kill the Lion, which later served as the catalyst for the conflict between the protagonists and the Nine Headed Lion.

There's no mention of the other five lion demons in this version.

Powers and Abilities

  • Four Clears Spade: The Tawny Lion Demon is armed with a Four Clears Spade (in Chinese: 四明鏟).
  • Magical powers: The Tawny Lion Demon had used his magical powers to stole the protagonists' weapons, despite they're very heavy.


Tawny Lion Demon: Are you two back? How many animals did you buy?
Sun Wukong: Eight pigs and seven sheep—fifteen altogether. The pigs cost sixteen ounces of silver and the sheep nine. We were only given twenty ounces, so we still owe five. This is the dealer who’s come with us for the silver.
Tawny Lion Demon: Fetch five ounces of silver, little ones, and send him on his way.
Sun Wukong: But the dealer hasn’t only come to get his silver. He’s come to see the banquet too.
Tawny Lion Demon: What nerve, Freaky Wile! You were sent off to buy things, not to talk about banquets.
Zhu Bajie: As you’ve got those amazingly fine treasures, my lord, what’s the harm in letting him have a look?
Tawny Lion Demon: Damn you too, Wily Freak. I got these treasures from inside the city of Yuhua. If this stranger sees them and talks about them in the city the word will get around and the prince will come to demand them. What’ll we do then?
Sun Wukong: My lord, this dealer comes from the other side of Qianfang Market. That’s a long way from the city, and he’s not a city man either, so where would he go telling tales? Besides, he’s hungry, and the two of us haven’t eaten. If there’s any food and liquor in the place why don’t we give him some before sending him on his way?
~ The Lion, Wukong and Bajie (who were disguising as his two minions)'s about the duck owner's permission to see the "treasures".
Stranger that’s the rake shining so brightly in the middle. You’re welcome to look, but don’t tell anyone about it, whatever you do.
~ The Lion to the "duck owner".
Who do you think you are, tricking me out of my treasures by impersonation?
~ The Lion angrily realizes that he has been tricked.
I hate to have to say it, but the banquet is off.
~ The Lion's disappointment.
I was taking a stroll in the moonlight the night before last when I saw a dazzling light rising up to the sky from the city of Yuhua. I hurried there to take a look and saw that it came from three weapons in the prince’s palace: a nine-toothed rake with gold in it, a staff and a gold-banded cudgel. I used my magic to take them away and decided to have a Rake Banquet to celebrate. I sent some of my underlings to buy pigs, sheep and fruit for the feast that I invited you to come and enjoy, Grandfather. But after I sent Greenface over with the invitation yesterday Wily Freak and the other one who’d been told to buy pigs and sheep came back with a dealer, a stranger, for some silver. The stranger was all set on seeing the banquet. I refused as I was afraid he’d spread the news around. Then they said they were hungry and asked for some food to eat, so I told them to go round the back to eat. When they got inside and saw the weapons they said they were theirs. They each snatched one and turned back into their real selves. One was a monk with a hairy face and a mouth like a thunder god’s, one was a monk with a long snout and big ears, and one was a monk with a really sinister face. The three of them yelled at me and started lashing out: they didn’t care at all. I just managed to fetch my four-bright halberd and come out to hold them at bay. When I asked them who they were and how they dared go in for impersonation they told me they were disciples of the Tang Priest who’s been sent to the Western Heaven by Great Tang in the East. When they went to present their passport on their way through the city the princes pressed them to stay and teach them martial arts. They said their three weapons had been left in the palace yard for copies of them to be made, and that I’d stolen them. Then they went for me with great fury. I didn’t know what those three monks are called, but they’re all very good fighters. As I was no match for them by myself I had to run away and come here. If you have any love for your grandson I beg you to lend me your arms in order to get my revenge on those monks.
~ The Lion begging his god-grandfather to avenge him.
Are you the real Freak and Wile or impostors?
~ The Lion seeing his two minions again.
Damned baldies! Vicious beasts! How could you be so evil? You’ve destroyed my cave palace and burnt my beauty to death. You’ve killed everyone, young and old, in the household. I’m so angry I could die!
~ The Tawny Lion shockingly realizes that his home was burned.
Grandfather, this mountain palace of mine wasn’t built in a day. Now those damned baldies have destroyed everything! My life’s not worth living!
~ The Lion to his god-grandfather, before attempting to commit suicide, only to be stopped by his allies.
Vicious baldies! When I was alone yesterday the three of you beat me and I had to run away. You should have done right, instead of burning my cave palace, destroying my mountain home and murdering my family. My hatred for you is as great as the ocean. Stay where you are and take this from my halberd!
~ The Lion before fighting Xuanzang's disciples.



  • The Tawny Lion Demon is probably the most controversial villain of the series, as he's hardly a villain at all and is more of an ignorant thief who is unaware of the consequence of his actions, even in the 1986 version where his villainy was toned up a bit. This often leads to many people to consider Wukong to be too cruel for killing a monster for such a minor offense, while those like the Golden Winged Great Peng who committed far worse crimes (even genocide) were easily forgiven due to the deities (and even the Buddha himself) told Wukong to do so.
    • It appears that he represents an ignorant person without political background at the time, and his fate symbolizing how without a political background to protect them, those people would be easily killed just for minor offenses, while people with political background would be protected by the authorities even if they committed far worse offenses.


           Journey to the West Villains

Azure Lion Demon | Baigujing | Bull King | Golden and Silver Horned Kings | Golden Cicada | Golden Winged Great Peng | Grand Saint of Nine Spirits | Hun Dun the Demon King | King of Spiritual Touch | King of the Southern Hill | Kings of Cold, Heat and Dust Protection | Lady Earth Flow | Nine Headed Bug | Princess Iron Fan | Red Boy | Ruler of the Kingdom of Miefa | Sai Tai Sui | Sha Wujing | Single Horned Rhinoceros King | Six Eared Macaque | Sun Wukong | Tawny Lion Demon | The Butler of the Kou family | Tuolong | Wansheng Dragon King | Yellow Robe Demon | Yellow Toothed Elephant Demon | Zhu Bajie

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