Many years ago curiosity led me to poke about in a neighborhood Asian food market. Along with the usual inscrutable imported canned goods they also sold cookware, candy, cheap toys, clothes, etc., and the odd novelty.
I’m sure you’re familiar with what is sometimes referred to as The Three Wise Monkeys:
See No Evil
Hear No Evil
Speak No Evil
Amid the cluttered, narrow aisles of this dusty little store I found a cheaply made and poorly painted papier-mâché grouping of the aforementioned monkeys; but with a difference: There was a fourth monkey. He was definitely a part of the group as the grouping was a single work of art.
As you know, See No Evil is always depicted covering his eyes; Hear No Evil is depicted covering his ears, and always, Speak No Evil is seen covering his mouth.
The fourth monkey in this grouping was depicted with his hands covering his crotch.
Of course I had to buy it. I bought it as a gift: an object lesson for my then young son.
His mother disapproved, blah, blah, blah; and eventually tossed it out.
I presume that this monkey is called Touch No Evil. I know that it exists because I once held it in my very own hand.
Fast Forward some twenty years: I’m in a store (of some kind) that deals in cheap imports, surplus knock-offs and just plain junk that appears to have been mass produced by opium addicts or slaves.
On an upper shelf I found what’s left of a consignment of decorative composite cast monkeys:
See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
Oh. And one more: Smell No Evil.
Smell No Evil is depicted as covering his nose. Again: I had to have it.
I put 2 and 2 together and came up with 17; to wit: Each of the monkeys corresponds to one of the senses.
See No Evil = The Eyes or Sight
Hear No Evil = The Ears or Hearing
Speak No Evil = Speech, the Tongue or Taste
Smell No Evil = The Olfactory Sense or Nose
Touch No Evil = The Sense of Touch
I purchased the four monkeys, not just for the novelty of having Smell No Evil grace my toilet; but because the artwork was superior to practically anything else in the store. The sculpting is good but the coloration is still better, being almost lifelike.
By the way; these are not actually monkeys but chimpanzees.
There are: The Great Apes; The Lesser Apes and The Monkeys.
The Great Apes include gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans as well as humans.
The Lesser Apes include the siamang and gibbons, etc.; and monkeys as a group are beyond naming here.
The essential difference, other than size, is that a monkey has a tail and an ape doesn’t.
I asked the imported fellow manning the cash register where the monkeys (chimps, actually) came from or who made them but he said he didn’t know.
Since I currently own these four statues I am now pretty well convinced that somewhere out there in this big world of ours is the missing fifth monkey belonging to this set.
Obsessed? No. A little buggy, maybe. I’d like to have the fifth monkey (Touch No Evil) to complete the collection; enough to offer a small reward for it.
-The Fifth Monkey-
Touch No Evil
(Composite Cast and Painted Chimpanzee)
approx. 14cm long
We could play all day with the idea of conducting A Global Search for The Missing Link, but that would be imprecise. This is just a search for a theoretically existent, small, composite cast statue of a common chimpanzee in a humorously sagacious pose.
The Twentieth Man