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Did You Know?Did You Know?

Hear No Evil..

The Three Monkeys: "hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil".

The trio of monkeys is depicted with one having its hands over its ears (kikazaru), another having its hands over its mouth (iwazaru), and the third having its hands over its eyes (mizaru). Known as the Three Monkeys, they are a tradition in Japanese culture.

"Beginning in the late Muromchi period (1333-1568), it became customary to carve these figures on koshinto, stone pillars used during the observance of Koshin. According to the Kiyu Shoran, an early 19th century reference work, the Three Monkeys may also be related to the Sanno belief complex, wherein monkeys play the role of divine messangers. The Three Monkeys represent the Santai (Three Truths) advocated the Tendai Sect of Buddhism. The Tendai founder, Saicho is said to have carved a representation of this ideal in the form of monkeys." (Japan. p. 1562-63)

A famous carving of the Three Monkeys is on the sacred stable in the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, Japan.

View similarly tagged entries:

quotes, religion, symbols



Last updated by teeterj on Oct. 31, 2011


While the Library has verified the information presented in these files in what it considers to be reliable and authoritative sources, it cannot take responsibility for nor guarantee the accuracy of the information presented.