Monkeys have been held sacred and/or in high esteem for centuries: the Hanuman Languor in India, the Rhesus Macaque in China and the Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkey) in Japan.
Monkey folklore existed centuries before Taoism, Buddhism or Confucianism.
Angkor Wat in Cambodia is of special interest to Mr. The message may have originated and/or been adopted by other civilizations.
It is possible the three monkeys featured in panels at Toshogu Shrine originated 8 centuries earlier. Iida believes there are many indications the three monkeys predate their appearance in Japan.
Ancient urban civilizations have come and gone and unfortunately there are few monkey artifacts available in museums. Iida has assembled drawings and photos of the monkeys from civilizations that flourished before the Christian era: in central Africa the Ashanti in Ghana, 3,000 BCE, Benin, and Togo; Ancient Egypt in the north and el Amarna,1350 BCE; the island of Cyprus dating back 9,000 BCE; Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilizations; the Indus Valley and of course China and India and the Indo China peninsula that lies between them.
Koshin worship spread in Japan during the 10th and 11th centuries and flourished until 1868.
Late in the Muromachi period 1338-1573 it became customary for the three monkeys to appear on stone pillars in Japan We collectors are the most familiar with the Toshogu Shrine, built in the early 17th century, in Nikko, Japan.
Consider the many armies and the ancient trade routes, caravans of horses and of camels and voyages by ships on seas.