An ancient Chinese legend
, brought to life in the 16th century
by the poet Wu Ch'eng-en
in his novel Journey to the West
. It's a satire of bureaucratic and religious life.
The story tells of the legend of Monkey (a.k.a. The Monkey King, Sun Wukong, Great Sage Equal to Heaven), and how he achieves enlightenment.
Monkey is a magical creature, a product of heaven and earth. Born from a rock at the top of a holy mountain, monkey has incredible power and intelligence, but it let down by his short temper and lack of wisdom.
As a punishment for his heavenly crimes, he must become Tripitaka's deciple during a 7 year pilgrimage from China to India, in order to retrieve sacred Buddhist texts. On this journey Monkey is obstructed and assisted by an assortment of heavenly outcasts, including Pigsy, Sandy and a Dragon prince that has been transformend into the shape of a horse.
You may be more familar with the 1970s Japanese TV adaptation of this story, "Monkey," or its famous theme song, "Monkey Magic". An great English translation is available: search for Arthur Waley.