Three Wise Monkeys
Updated: Jul 21, 2021
Kyle had been living in Portland for a little bit, having come up from Los Angeles. He came in to see me about covering up some old tattoos that he had on his lower right leg. He wanted to feature the Four Wise Monkeys of Buddhist thought in the cover up. Many of us are familiar with the Three Wise Monkeys, representing Buddhist principles-- in particular, “see no evil”, “hear no evil”, and “speak no evil”. The monkeys “hide” from evil, closing the mouth, eyes and ears. However, they also have a fourth friend, whose image is not seen as often--embodying the principle of "commit no evil,” with the arms covering the belly or crotch area. Since the Japanese consider the number four unlucky though, the fourth monkey is mentioned very rarely. Kyle wanted his wise monkeys to be Proboscis monkeys, because of their lively expressions.
He also wanted to add Bird of Paradise flowers, while still keeping his previously done Hotei tattoo. I couldn't fit four monkeys into the design but got the three main ones, which he was very happy to have incorporated into the tattoo.
Here are some pictures of the drawing, outline, gray shading and partial color stages.