About the Leprosy Monk

In Chinese, this character is called 癞头跌脚僧. A direct translation means the Leprosy Tripping Monk. Perhaps “tripping” isn’t the best translation, as it’s meant to describe the monk as being awkward and doesn’t walk a straight line.

The Leprosy Monk and the Taoist Priest are the characters who run through the whole text, and they are the thread between reality and fiction in Dream of Red Chamber. 

Not much has been written about the Leprosy Monk or the Taoist, but we believe they are important characters in the novel.

The Taoist priest and the Monk are two very different characters, they believe in different religions, yet the author Cao seems to have done this on purpose to confuse the characters as well as the viewers. Perhaps this is his best metaphor for the social chaos at that time.

About this Portrait

Chinese watercolor, on rice paper. Dream of the Red Chamber (1975-85)
Painted by Xiang Li

The Monk Lai Tou Die Jiao

More from Xiang Li Art