Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh, That It Were True

I doubt the truth of this, but it's such a delight to believe.
A miniature monkey, traditionally a pet for Chinese scholars and thought to be extinct, has been discovered alive in southeastern China. According to Monday's People's Daily, the little creature, weighing only seven ounces, exists in the mountains of Fujian province just opposite Taiwan.

Known as Ink or Pen Monkeys because scholars kept them in their studies, where it is said they ground and prepared ink, passed brushes and turned pages, the monkeys slept in the drawers of scholars' desks or curled up in their brush pots.

The use of such a monkey as part of a mandarin's impedimenta fits in with traditional scholars' tastes for the exotic or the bizarre. Their desks were cluttered with brush holders and ink-grinding stones, and impractical but tactile things made of roots, jade, bones, and wood. They wrote and exchanged tales of deformed or mutant humans or animals, and prized unusual trees and plants. InkMonkey Press

The Wisconsin National Primate Research Center and at least one evolutionary primatologist at UT-Austin agree that there's no scientific proof that ink monkeys ever existed. Even the Web site of the Chinese Wuyi Mountain nature preserve (in the region where the ink monkey rediscovery supposedly occurred) acknowledges somewhat mournfully that ink monkeys are not among the wildlife found there.

1 comment:

Kathleen Botsford said...

I had never heard that intriguing story but ink monkeys will now have a place to call home inside my imagination. It is open to any number of fancies! The cute little buggers....will fit right in!