Hear, See and Speak no Evil, the three wise monkeys


Emil Schuttenhelm presents in http://www.moetjekijken.nl

his Hear, See and Speak No Evil Collection.


It all started in 1975 during a business trip to Hong Kong. There I bought my first hear-see-speak no evil figurine. I cannot remember why I took a liking to it, but probably because there were so many different designs available there. The three monkeys I knew already from my parent’s home but I started wondering what the deeper meaning of this remarkable symbol could be and where it originally came from.


How could I ever know, that this uneventful purchase was the start of such an interesting hobby that has meant so much to me over all these years.


For a long period of time, I thought that I was the only one interested in the three monkeys, but in 1990 I got in contact with other collectors. Initially in the Netherlands, but later, through the internet, with in total over 300 collectors all over the world.


In all these years my collection has grown to approx. 3500 items, mainly monkeys, but also other animals that hear-see-speak-no-evil. The main part consists of statues, but I also have a lot of utility items with the 3 monkeys on them. In addition I have numerous “flat” items such as photographs, cards, newspaper clippings and other illustrations, all with the No Evil symbol. During recent years I have concentrated on collecting items from Japan, the origin of these famous monkeys. They are not a funny souvenir article, as is often thought, but they form part of the Japanese folk religion Koshin.


For many years I had planned to write a book about the Hear, See and Speak no Evil Monkeys. There is hardly any literature available about this subject. Unfortunately a part of the information that can be found in the internet is not correct. (The disadvantage of the internet is that many statements are simply copied and when certain information appears often enough, it is assumed that it must be true).


A few years ago I decided to make an internet site instead of a book. Such a website offers a number of great advantages. It can be updated all the time and one can stay in contact with the readers. Another positive point is that the making of a website by itself is a very nice hobby.


In fact I have two websites: the most important is www.three-monkeys.info. (Click here) That site covers all aspects of the Three Monkeys; origin, meaning, collecting, collectors and collections and that in 3 languages and on a worldwide scale. Once a month a Newsletter is emailed to all who have added their name to the mailing list.


The second site is especially created for Japan  (Click here) The texts are in Japanese with a translation in English. But also many pictures can be viewed. Since I  do not speak Japanese this site has been created with the great help of a friend in Japan. The idea of this homepage was to get into contact with Three-Monkeys Collectors in Japan, which has succeeded is some cases.


Since 1993 No Evil collectors in Europe and later also in the USA are getting together once in a while to exchange duplicates and information. If you want to know more about the meetings just check the online Newsletter.


Emil J. Schuttenhelm