Folklore

Monkeys in Mythology and Folklore #folklore

I’ve always thought of monkeys as mischievous. And looking at folklore, it seems that I’m right.

Folktales and Folklore of Monkeys from Around the World

The Forest in Folklore and Mythology by Alexander Porteous [1928], p147

In the forests of Brazil a lame Demon leads the hunter astray. In these forests, as in all other forests, many unaccountable sounds are often heard. Mr. Henry W. Bates says that sometimes a sound is heard as if a hollow tree had been struck with an iron bar, or it may be that a piercing cry resounds through the forest. These, he says, the natives attribute to a Demon, or wild man, of the woods, who is known as the Curupira, or Curupuri. This being is variously described in different localities. In some parts he is said to be a kind of orang-utang, covered with long shaggy hair and living in trees… another kind of forest Demon, or rather Hobgoblin, is called a Caypór… The belief in these two demons has evidently had its origin in tales of the wild animals of the Brazilian forests, clearly some of the monkey tribe, which tales, highly embellished, have been handed down from generation to generation.

Monkeys in Japanese Folklore

The three monkeys, one covering its ears, one covering its mouth, and one covering its eyes, is well-known as standing for: “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. Did you know that it is Japanese in origin? They are known as the three wise monkeys: Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil.

People have attached various meanings to this proverbial principle, including of being of good mind, speech and action. The most popular, though, is using this phrase on those who deal with impropriety by turning a blind eye/deaf ear/etc.

Lafcadio Hearn (author of various books about Japan, including Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things) refers to these monkeys as the three mystic apes.

South-African Folk-Tales by James A. Honey [1910]

Jackal and Monkey

EVERY evening Jackal went to the Boer’s kraal. He crept through the sliding door and stole a fat young lamb. This, clever Jackal did several times in succession. Boer set a wip[1] for him at the door. Jackal went again and zip-there he was caught around the body by the noose. He swung and swayed high in the air and couldn’t touch ground. The day began to dawn and Jackal became uneasy.

On a stone kopje, Monkey sat. When it became light he could see the whole affair, and descended hastily for the purpose of mocking Jackal. He went and sat on the wall. “Ha,ha, good morning. So there you are hanging now, eventually caught.”

“What? I caught? I am simply swinging for my pleasure; it is enjoyable.”

“You fibber. You are caught in the wip.”

“If you but realized how nice it was to swing and sway like this, you wouldn’t hesitate. Come, try it a little. You feel so healthy and strong for the day, and you never tire afterwards.”

“No, I won’t. You are caught.”

After a while Jackal convinced Monkey. He sprang from the kraal wall, and freeing Jackal, adjusted the noose around his own body. Jackal quickly let go and began to laugh, as Monkey was now swinging high in the air.

“Ha, ha, ha,” he laughed. “Now Monkey is in the wip.”

“Jackal, free me,” he screamed.

“There, Boer is coming,” shouted Jackal.

“Jackal, free me of this, or I’ll break your playthings.”

“No, there Boer is coming with his gun; you rest a while in the noose.”

“Jackal, quickly make me free.”

“No, here’s Boer already, and he’s got his gun. Good morning.” And with these parting words he ran away as fast as he could. Boer came and saw Monkey in the wip.

“So, so, Monkey, now you are caught. You are the fellow who has been stealing my lambs, hey? “

“No, Boer, no,” screamed Monkey, ” not I, but Jackal.”

“No, I know you; you aren’t too good for that.”

“No, Boer, no, not I, but Jackal,” Monkey stammered.

“Oh, I know you. Just wait a little,” and Boer, raising his gun, aimed and shot poor Monkey dead.

[1. Wip: A Dutch word for springle, consisting of a bent green stick, to which a noose is attached at one end; the trap is delicately adjusted by a cross stick, which when trod on releases the bent bough, pulling the noose quickly around the animal and into the air.]

The Monkey King

Also known as Sun Wukong in Chinese, is a legendary figure. He is best known as a main character from the 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West.

He possesses immense strength, speed and powers of transformation. He is a skilled fighter. His hair possesses magical properties, capable of summoning clones of the Monkey King, various weapons, animals and various objects. He also has the power to manipulate the weather and stop people in place with magic.

For a great movie featuring the Monkey King, check out The Forbidden Kingdom with Jet Li as the Monkey King.

Aesop’s Fables

The Monkey and the Dolphin

A SAILOR, bound on a long voyage, took with him a Monkey to amuse him while on shipboard. As he sailed off the coast of Greece, a violent tempest arose in which the ship was wrecked and he, his Monkey, and all the crew were obliged to swim for their lives. A Dolphin saw the Monkey contending with the waves, and supposing him to be a man (whom he is always said to befriend), came and placed himself under him, to convey him on his back in safety to the shore. When the Dolphin arrived with his burden in sight of land not far from Athens, he asked the Monkey if he were an Athenian. The latter replied that he was, and that he was descended from one of the most noble families in that city. The Dolphin then inquired if he knew the Piraeus (the famous harbor of Athens). Supposing that a man was meant, the Monkey answered that he knew him very well and that he was an intimate friend. The Dolphin, indignant at these falsehoods, dipped the Monkey under the water and drowned him.

Summary

Monkeys from all over the globe outwit, outsmart and outlast all other animals. They are mischievous and fight on the side of good. They are misunderstood at times and blamed for all misfortune, but they endure.

Monkeys in My Writing

Origin of the Fae: Faery Hybrid Monkeys
They can look like any type of monkey, depending on the region they live in.
They adore living in the mortal world where they can play tricks on man and fae.
They like a good laugh, though they can push things too far.
They are not malicious in nature and have a healthy respect for the more powerful fae.

faery hybrid monkey English Afrikaans
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