Monkey Symbolism in Chinese Culture
Ever wondered what the roll of monkeys is in Chinese history?
The Monkey is the 9th of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. Monkeys are known for their cleverness, so many Chinese try to give birth in a year that aligns with the Monkey zodiac (the year of the Monkey). If you're looking to have a baby in that year, look to give birth in 2028!
Two monkeys that you might have seen depicted in antique Chinese paintings could be gibbons & macaques. The below painting depicts gibbons (type of monkey) at play. This was dated to be from 1427.
There is a 2018 recent historical find that shows the role that Gibbons could have played as a pet:
"Gibbons (family Hylobatidae) and their perceived ‘noble’ characteristics made them symbols of scholar-officials, and they became high-status pets from the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC). The tomb in which the remains of Junzi imperialis were found may have belonged to Lady Xia, grandmother of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC), the leader who ordered the building of the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors.
The tomb, discovered in 2004 at Shenheyuan, Xi’an, was found to contain twelve pits with animal remains. In one of the pits, archaeologists found skeletons of a leopard, a lynx, an Asiatic black bear, a crane, domestic mammals and birds, and a partial facial skeleton of a gibbon."
Fast forward to modern day chinoiserie decor styling, monkeys are used in all sorts of ways to enhance designs & celebrate their symbolism in Chinese culture. Many artists show monkeys holding a parasol (a light umbrella to shield oneself from the sun) or climbing within a toile design.
Green and Blue Monkeying Around Art Print:
Blue and White Monkeying Around Art Print
Yellow Chinoiserie Monkey Art Print
Navy Blue Chinoiserie Monkey Art Print
Pink Chinoiserie Monkey with Umbrella Art Print
- Youlin Magazine - The Monkey in Chinese Culture
- Chinasage - Animals Symbolism in Chinese Art
- China Highlights - Monkey Chinese Zodiac Sign
- Science News - Extinct Gibbon Found in 2250-year-old Tomb of Chinese Noblewoman