Monday, January 4, 2016

Year of the monkey: do not see anything, do not hear anything, do not say anything

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Author: Julia Kornev, photos and video: Alexander Sokolov and Oleg Mutovkin

Three Monkeys. The classic image: one closes his eyes, the other - the ears, the third - the mouth. It is originated from the Eastern philosophy. In Taoism, the Tao – is the Way: "can’t hear, and if we hear something - so it's not the Way, the Way is invisible, and if we see something - then it is not the Way. It is impossible to say anything about the Way, and if something is said about the Way- this means, that it is not the Way….” For the Western man is easier to see in the three monkeys a collective ostrich with its head in the sand in the face of problems.

"The story of one thing" - a joint project with the Tomsk Regional Museum.

The Tomsk regional museum stored very close to the original copy of the carving, depicting the three monkeys from the oldest religious center in the city of Nikko (Japan). The most famous landmark is a Shinto shrine in Nikko Tosegu which included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Tosegu is a complex of buildings adorned with rich wood carvings. One of the most famous is the stable where the perimeter is the carved panels depicting monkeys.

The Senior research fellow Elena Malofienko at the Tomsk regional museum explains:

- This carved panel was received in 1945 from resident of Tomsk  Tregubova - this is the only record from the 50s, there is no more data in Museum books. How it got to Tomsk is unknown, but if it is year 1945, then we can suggest, that it is out of the trophy, from those who returned from the Soviet-Japanese war, maybe from China. This symbol of Three Monkeys was already known since  the 17th century, it came to Japan from China, and from Japan has spread around the world. Our mural decoration resembles the stables at the sanctuary Tosegu in Nikko. Generally monkey in some Eastern beliefs was considered the guardian of the horses.
But these three monkeys represent also more ancient Taoist beliefs. In Taoism there is a concept: the Way. If you are on the Way, you hear only with your heart. What you see is not true.

There is interpreted both In Japan or China that one monkey hear no evil, sees no evil the other one, and the third one does not say evil.
Before that was the fourth monkey, which was covering its groin.
In the eastern interpretation of the image of the three monkeys suggests that our senses deceive us, that is, you need not to pay attention to what you see and do not pass the judgement, that is, to speak in Russian, to live, listening to your heart.
In the European transcription of this image the conclusions are drown about non-violence and non-resistance to evil.

The cultural influence of the three monkeys

The composition of the three monkeys, if not popular, is still recognizable in almost all corners of the World.

Mahatma Gandhi - a fighter for the independence of India, a teacher of the Indian people and an ideologist of nonviolence never parted with his favorite three monkeys, perhaps the only luxury he could afford. Now the Gandhi monkeys are remaining one of the main relics in his former residence Bapu Kuti.

The writer Rudyard Kipling has written his personal impressions about the monkeys in the stables in Tosegu.
The individual images of the three monkeys are included in the standard character set in Unicode, starting with version 6.

The monkeys entered the set of "smileys" in the subsection "characters gestures."

The three monkeys are depicted on the commemorative coin Somalia in 2006

They portrayed on stamps in Tajikistan and New Caledonia.

The images of the three monkeys in use in cartoons, books and songs.

Turkish film director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who won the award at Cannes in 2008 for best director, for the film called «Uc Maymun» (translated from Turkish "three monkeys"). In the story, the characters are trying to get away from their family problems, trying to ignore and downplay them. That is, the "three monkeys" are considered by the authors as a synonym for the "ostrich position".

We asked residents of Tomsk, how they understand this image. The versions appeared very variable:

- The silence is a gold. Not to hear - the less gossip you hear, the longer you live, and not get ill. And not to see means not to see the bad in things.

- I see nothing, I hear nothing, it is none of my business - I know nothing.

- Indifference to the others, to the world.
- Maybe it's about us: I do not see, I do not hear, I do not say anything. It is about today's time.

- Every person has the image, it is his attitude towards the problems in life: some problems he does not want to see, about some he did not want to talk about, about some problems he do not want to hear. This is in every person in relation to the problems.

- Listen only to themselves, without perceiving the reality of what is outside and to realize just what is inside yourself. This has to be done.

- For us to strive for the truth and against the falsehood. For example, if there is around something negative happens, and he does not see, does not hear, does not interfere, not protect the offended. But the person must be such that if someone near him was offended, he should stand up for this person, and if someone is in trouble - to help. That is, it is the way how not to do it? - Yes.

- I see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. That is, do not listen to evil, it is necessary to do good, I think, this is the main wish for the New Year.

According to the traditional Chinese calendar the upcoming Year of the Monkey will come on Feb. 8, 2016. This year corresponds to a natural element "fire", this means that year 2016 will be the year of the Red Monkey. It is repeated once in 60 years. The last time the same "flaming monkey" year was in 1956, and the next will come only in 2076. As the prophets Taoists say, who can be found around Beijing Abode White clouds, the Year of the Monkey promises dynamic change, swings from hope to despair and vice-versa.

Some of the events of the previous year, Red Monkey, 1956:
February 25 - during the XX Congress of the CPSU (Communist Party of the USSR) Khrushchev delivers a report on the exposure of Stalin's personality cult

March 23 - proclaimed the first Islamic republic - Pakistan

April 14 - Charles Ginsberg, Charles Anderson and Ray Dolby demonstrated his invention - the first video recorder (in triplicate)

April 28 - the Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Chamber  to lift the special settlement regime for the deported people (during WWII)

May 10 - Soviet Union abolished tuition fees in high school

18 May - the Central Committee of CPSU appeal to the  Komsomol to go on the construction of mines in Donbass

June 21 - Soviet Union adopted the missile R-5M - the first Soviet missiles with nuclear warheads.

August 3 - Military coup In Syria.

August 16 - The Soviet Union adopted a resolution on the irrigation and development of virgin lands.

2 November - The Hungarian government announces withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact (signed in 1955) and refers to the United Nations and Western powers for help against the Soviet invasion.

In the next section, "The story of one thing" about the mysterious stick on the end of which instead of a handle  there is a hammer, but a pattern on the side of the stick can be used as a ruler.

Tags: History of one thing, in Tomsk ,Tomsk Regional Museum, the Year of red fiery monkey, three monkeys.

Translated by ZenaV_1.0© for KarlosDJX©.

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