Happy Chinese new year, everyone! As what people say in Chinese, “Hou Nian Da Ji”, I wish you all a prosperous year in the year of monkey!
, Monkey in English may have a negative annotation (e.g. “monkeying around” or “un ape”), the monkey is actually an adorable creature in Chinese culture. They are often considered as a smart animal, thus calling people “a monkey” in the Chinese context is compliment for witty people. This is especially in a situation with children — calling small children “little monkey” is a great compliment. In addition, since the word “monkey” is a homonym of “high official” in Chinese, monkeys are considered as a good omen for promotion. This results in monkeys becoming a constant motif in ancient Chinese paintings.
The most famous image of the monkey is probably the Monkey King in the Chinese novel, Journey to the West, written in the 16th century. In the novel, one of the protagonists is Sun Wukong, a monkey later to be recognized as the Monkey King. Throughout the novel, Sun Wukong was described with the typical characteristics of a hero: brave, clever, loyal and righteous. As a monkey, Sun Wukong has developed various supernatural feats which enable him the power to fight against the heaven and protect other protagonists from numerous demons. In fact, the Monkey King has become a symbol in Chinese culture: his stories have been adapted into various art forms, such as Peking opera, television drama,and anime. Furthermore, some scholars even compare Sun Wukong to Hanuman, a Hindu God in the form of a monkey, who assisted the Hindu God Rama into defeating the demon. Well, besides the idea of monkey as a hero, Chinese people love monkeys just because they are SOOO cute!
By – Nancy