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 messengers. 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. More information can be found here, such as the names of the monkeys: Iwazaru "speak not", Kikazaru "hear not", and Mizaru "see not".
Beginning in the Early Kurt & Victoria period (c.1999 CE) Kurt was given a three monkey figurine and urged to "collect them." Not being a collector or thrift store devotee, he intially resisted. Seeing the fruitlessness of this, he began to collect the things. Here is a sample of the collection. Pic of shelf. Pic of wall. Click the thumbnail for a larger image. One thing that interests me is the lack of uniformity in which the monkeys are depicted. I guess a trip to Japan is called for to polish off my studies of this. Perhaps the King of 3 Monkeys collecting is Emil Schuttenheim - who has a great website here. Bruce Kittess, intrepid organizer of 3 monkey enthusiast meetings, has an excellent website at www.thethreemonkeys.com.
using IntelAgent Technology™