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Kumagusu's copy of 'Koshin Monkeys'

[Photo: Koshin Monkeys]

  Photo: Kumagusu's copy of 'Koshin' ritual and Three Japanese Monkeys - from Kumagusu's 'Extracts from "Wakan Sansai Zue"' (in his junior high school days) [© Tanabe City]

The picture above is part of a page from 'Extracts from "Wakan Sansai Zue ('Japanese and Chinese Illustration of the Three Worlds')"', one of Kumagusu's autographic documents in his youth left at his old residence, in which the article '"Koshin" ritual' of Book Four is copied entirely. These figures of 'Three Monkeys' represent three virtues of 'Not see, not hear, not say', by employing a verbal pan of 'Zaru' for '-monkey' and 'not' in Japanese. The article of "Wakan Sansai Zue" illustrates the association of the figure of monkey, which is common in Buddhist Indian iconology, with the Taoist folkloric ritual of 'Koshin' (sitting up through the night of a particular day of the year, Koshin, in order to avoid one's bad deeds or habits being informed to the Emperor of Heaven) in this image.

In his junior high school days in Wakayama, Kumagusu made many extract copies of the Eastern Classics of Natural history such as "Wakan Sansai Zue" or "Honzo Komoku" (cf Cover illustration of "Kumagusu Kenkyu" No 6), and gave these notebooks the titles like 'Wakan Sansai Zue Nukigaki (Extracts from Wakan Sansai Zue)' and so on. Besides them, he was trying to compile a 'Systema animalium' by re-constructing the descriptions on the animals in these Eastern Classics on the basis of Western zoology, and this way of trearing wide range of sources may, perhaps, be seen as archetypal for his later approaches to a new integration of knowledge collected from all over the world. All of these drafts (three versions left in Minakata residence, and one more among the collection of Minakata Kumagusu Memorial Hall) began with 'Two-palmed group (ie Man)', advanced to 'Four-palmed group (ie Apes and Monkeys)' but were eventually left unfinished without the following chapters.

Kumagusu's interest in the monkeys in folklore and religion, thus dating back to his schoolboy days, kept growing in his later life. During his stay in London, Kumagusu wrote to Toki Horyu in Paris and discussed that these Koshin Monkeys came from Hanuman, the Indian deity of Monkey (19 March 1897, "Minakata Kuamgusu Zenshu" vol 7 p 293). When this subject of 'Three Monkeys' appeared in the 'Queries' column of "Notes and Queries" in 1903, Kumagusu posted four serial comments titled 'Japanese Monkeys' and showed his ample knowledge on monkeys both in Eastern and Western literature ("Minakata Kuamgusu Zenshu" vol 10 pp 122f). Kumagusu discussed the Monkeys several times in his Japanese writings as well. (Tamura Yoshiya)

Cf: Introductory Exhibition of Various Figures of 'Three Monkeys' around the World (1999), National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. Already expired from the WWW (2005. 1. 4)

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