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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/438

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NOTES AND QUERIES. [9* s. XL MAY so. im


"VICEREINE." Is there any authority for the use of the title "Vicereine," which the papers lately have been applying to the wife of a Viceroy? W. C. B.


JAPANESE MONKEYS. (9 th S. xi. 9, 76.)

As I have had for some years past certain queries to propound in your columns in this connexion, I deem it wise to forward this reply together with them at once, leaving to some other days the publication in extenso of my treatise on the subject, for which purpose I have already accumulated ample materials at home. In preparing the present communica- tion I have solely made use of my memory and a few memoranda that lay beside myself in these mountains, where there is no book of reference, and where I have been botaniz- ing now more than a year.

The three monkeys in question belong to the cultus of Seimen Kongd or Blue- faced Vadjra, which was introduced to Japan from China in the seventh century. This Mantranist deity, of a terrible appear- ance, with three eyes and many arms, is always represented with the two minor gods and three monkeys. The characteristic gestures of the last covering with their hands the eyes, the ears, and the mouth respectively are intended to impress their master's commandments on the lookers-on. These commandments are contained in a well-known folk-poem, which would read in prose thus : " Shun your sight, shun your hearing, and shun your talk : then you are safe from all the evils." Of tnis poem there occur in the very happily executed original the three words Mizaru, Kikazaru, and Iwazaru, respectively with these double literal senses : See- Ape and Seeing-not, Hear- Ape and Hearing-not, and Speak-Ape and Speaking-not. A reputed travesty of it runs : '"Tis far better to think not than put together all the three monkeys, that avoid to see, to hear, and to speak." Here in the text are two additional plays upon words, viz., Omowazaru, meaning both Think- Ape and Thinking-not, and Mashira, standing either for the noun ape in Japanized Sanskrit, or for the adjective better in Japanese. Indeed, owing to the peculiarity of their etymology and syntax, as well as the innumerable traditions, Japanese, Chinese, and Indian in their origins, the poems, nay even the prose, ^of the Japanese abound with puns of this description, which, they


hold, confer elegance and grace, whilst not unfrequently the prejudiced foreign scholars reject them as detestable. To make a free use of David Hume's simile, Who could be mad enough to affirm that the Khine is right and the Rhone wrong, simply because they differ from one another in their course and development? Certainly those who scorn the Japanese poems accom- panied with seasonable puns would not be so fastidious towards the classic literatures, to which they are from their infancy accus- tomed to listen with wholesale admiration, but of which, notwithstanding, many pieces are as hard as the Japanese ones to render into any modern European language on exactly the same account. A Chinese adage warns us that "man is in the habit of esteeming his ears and disdaining his eyes too much." But my well-timed injunc- tions to those scholars will be: "Shun not your sight, shun not your hearing, and you are safe from all the errors ; but far better it is for you not to shun to think." In the meanwhile I do not know which way shall I enjoin them, " Shun not your speaking " or "Speak not." Thus far my apology for the so-called detestable intricacy of the puns in the Japanese poesy, a sympathy with which is the sine qua non of the full understand- ing of the present subject.

Kitamura Shinsetsu, a Japanese antiquary of the eighteenth century, in his ' Kiyu Shoran,' states that, as he finds no allusion to the monkeys in the stitras devoted to the Blue -faced Vadjra, he considers them to have been fabricated in the ninth century by some Buddhists of Mount Hie, where was built then a famous cathedral, whose guardian god, Sanno, is attributed wit! monkeys as his special favourites.

Now, Mantranism is a grand system of mystic Buddhism, covering the widest portion of the so-called Doctrines of Great Vehicle, and is in its essence the same with the Tibetan Lamaism. During the eighth and ninth centuries it was very influentit " in China, whence it was brought to Japan the illustrious Combadaxus, to whose n- vention the nation is said to owe the current alphabet. The Mantra system divides all spiritual beings of merit into four grades. Highest of all stand the Buddhas, then the Bodhisattvas, then the Vadjras, the Devas being the lowest. Of these four, the former two are intrinsically Buddhist, whereas the latter two were adopted from Brahmanism, and allowed the places in the Pantheon simply in order to show the men of other creeds that even the highest objects