As a kid I enjoyed watching drama Journey to the West (1986),

Wiki : Shā Wùjìng is one of the three disciples of the Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang. He appears as a character in the novel Journey to the West written by Wu Cheng'en in the Ming dynasty, although versions of his character predate the Ming novel. In the novels, his background is the least developed of the pilgrims and he contributes the least to their efforts. He is called Sand or Sandy and is known as a "water buffalo" for his seemingly less developed intelligence in many English versions of the story.

His Buddhist name "Sha Wujing", given by Bodhisattva Guanyin, means "sand aware of purity". His name is rendered in Korean as Sa Oh Jeong, into Japanese as Sa Gojō, into Sino-Vietnamese as Sa Ngộ Tịnh.
He is also known as 沙僧 "Monk Sha", "Shā Sēng" in Mandarin Chinese, Sa Tăng in Sino-Vietnamese and Sua Cheng in Thai .

I saw actor "Sha Wujing" necklace with huge, weighing up to 5kg.
I want to ask the meaning of this kind of necklace. ?
In Buddhism, Who had that necklace?

  • The same Wikipedia article says, "Wujing's appearance was rather grisly; he had a red beard and his head was partially bald; a necklace consisting of skulls made him even more terrible. ... There is an interesting story about the necklace of skulls: etc."
    – ChrisW
    Dec 8, 2014 at 16:42
  • Mala beads. In China the abbot was the guy with the largest set of mala beads worn around the neck. Visually, its a way of showing who's the boss. Dec 13, 2014 at 5:17

2 Answers 2


Today the beads are generally used for counting the breaths, however there is also a use for divination. In the latter each bead is assigned a meaning according to the breakdown of sense experience (vedana) as follows:

The six senses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind) X pleasant, unpleasant, neither-pleasant-nor-unpleasant Bound up in the worldly = 18 + Not bound to the worldly = 18 = 36 X Past, Future, Present = 108.

So bead #1 = past pleasant sensation down-bound to the world related to the eye

When asked a question the diviner finds the bead most appropriate to the question and visualizes (from his associations with that sense-experience) and interprets to attain an answer.

  • could you please explain what you mean by 'not bound to the worldly'...this might be digressing from the original question but could you post links regarding this kind of bead use (I had this misconception that beads are useful just for chanting god names, which is useful for concentration but not helpful in developing wisdom at all) Dec 13, 2014 at 3:09
  • Not bound to the worldly: There are two modes of sense experience: those which are downbound (tied up with) experience through the senses and those connected with giving up. See Satipatthana Sutta on Vedana. obo.genaud.net/backmatter/indexes/sutta/mn/… I do not have any references for bead use. The use for counting and divination were taught me personally.
    – user2418
    Dec 24, 2014 at 14:33

Not sure if he's the "least developed" of the pilgrim. In terms of moral disciplines, he's much better than his brother Pigsy. Venerable Thich Thien Sieu wrote a great essay that provides deeper analysis on the role and meaning of each pilgrim. Unfortunately I couldn't find any English's translation to the original article here. About the meaning of those huge beads, not sure if they carry any significant meaning other than to aid sutras reciting (sort of like the rosary beads..). The character Lu Zhishen (Flowery Monk) in the novel "Water Margin" also wears similar things..

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