Monkey Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

monkey on a tree

Monkeys have a close resemblance to humans and reproduce human behavior through their social structuring. Ingenious and curious, the monkeys are often associated with playfulness and cheekiness.

However, they are also known for their courage. When showing up in your life, this power animal comes with many exciting and funny attributes. As such, let us learn more about monkey symbolism.

Table of contents

Monkey Symbolism and Meaning

Understanding what does a monkey symbolize is not that easy as you thought. Before going deeper into the monkey symbolism, we must dissociate the monkeys from the apes. 

Monkeys are smaller and usually have tails, while the apes are bigger, have no tails, and tend to be more social. 

So what does a monkey represent? The monkey symbol is often associated with entertainment and joyfulness. Due to their energetic and mischievous nature, monkeys were seen by various cultures as tricksters. 

However, the monkey represents much more than fun and play. The symbolism of the monkey is connected to deep knowledge and intelligence. 

monkey silouette

A very resourceful creature, the monkey sign is related to finding solutions to any problem. In their natural habitat, monkeys are incredibly compassionate and carrying. 

Their bonding sessions come as a reminder that we cannot live alone. The monkey symbol meaning is that we should spend more time together more often and care for each other.

Considering what do monkeys symbolize, it is evident that we have so many things to learn from these amusing yet interesting creatures. Let the monkey spirit guide enter your life and allow it to teach you how to swing among the obstacles.

Monkey Native American Symbolism

Monkey is a typical character of Central and South American folklore. Usually considered tricksters, monkeys use their intelligence to outplay both people and animals.

However, some of the South American indigenous tribes use the monkeys as clan animals. For example, Guajiro and Yagua tribes from Columbia, Peru, and Venezuela, have howler monkey clans, while the Chibchan tribes had spider monkey clans.

The monkey symbols are present all over the Southern American continent.

Everybody is familiar with the Aztec monkey symbol and its meaning. Ozomatli, the faithful companion of Xochipilli (the God of music, dance, and love), was depicted as a monkey and is associated with art and harmony. 

two monkeys on a tree

Ozomatli is also the name of the eleventh day in the Aztec and Mayan calendar. On this specific day, the ancient Aztecs used to remind themselves of the importance of letting art into your life.

Another mythological figure depicted as a monkey is Iwarrika, the trickster that accidentally flooded the world. Iwarrika is known for its mental capacity but also for its laziness, greed, and curiosity.

Monkey People or Tcetin were legendary humanoid creatures with tails who lived in caves and trees. Affiliated to the Ahtna tribe, these Monkey People were known as enemies of humans.

Monkey Eastern Symbolism

The monkey is an important symbol among Asian cultures. Everyone is familiar with the Monkey King Chinese legends or the Japanese stories where the macaques trick other animals. Let’s see what does a monkey means to Asian folks. 

Chinese symbols for monkeys are present all over China. The ninth sign of the Chinese zodiac is the monkey, and it is believed that children born during the year of the monkey are clever.

The Monkey King mythology and his Journey to the West story managed to enter the filmmaking industry. The monkey in Chinese Buddhist lore is represented as a mischievous creature.

monkey portrait

However, the monkey learns important lessons becoming a symbol of penitence, redemption through repentance. One of the most influential figures in Indian mythology is Hanuman, the monkey god. 

Hanuman is known for his bravery, strength, and selfless service. Similar to the Chinese Monkey King, Hanuman’s story and brave deeds became part of folklore.

The Japanese meaning of monkey is tied to Shinto Buddhism. It is believed that monkeys are heralds of gods or physical manifestation of a god. 

Also, the monkeys protect against evil and demons. To summarize, the Asian monkey is a symbol of fun, courage, intelligence, but also fertility.

Monkey Christianity symbolism

The monkey meaning in the bible is not very well known as there aren’t too many mentions of this animal. However, Christian iconography uses monkeys to represent base instincts like greed, lust, or hatred. Sometimes, the monkey is depicted as a symbol of evil.

Although we cannot say for sure what a monkey symbolizes in the bible, the Christian iconography and art used the monkey as a representation of the ugly human side. 

Either positive or negative, the monkey is mirroring these human characteristics. Painted or described as emblems of lust and greed, monkeys were also representations of social status. 

monkey portrait

Although the monkeys were depicted with positive traits, elements of malice or mischief were still introduced.

The most famous representations of sins were depicting either a mother monkey having twins or as a monkey eating an apple. The mother loves a baby more than the other, so she protects the loved one while the other baby is hanging from her back.

In the mother monkey’s case, the child she loves represents wealth, while the one she hates means greed. The expression monkey on your back meaning is that one has a burden on their back.

Monkey Celtic Symbolism

The old Celtic populations developed their culture in places where monkeys could not survive. This is why, even if the Celtic religion is based on the living creature’s worship, the monkey is not part of their mythology and symbolism.

However, there is a slight possibility for the ancient Celts to have met the monkey, even adopted it as a pet.

The Barbary Macaque is a large primate that once ranged across Europe, although it is native to the Atlas Mountains in Northern Africa. Nowadays, the Barbary macaque is an endangered species. 

two monkeys on the ground

Skeletons of these monkeys were found up in North, at Navan Fort in County Armagh. This species’ chance to make its way to Ireland is minimal, although its fur is quite thick. 

Most likely, the Barbary macaque was brought to Ireland by the Roman traders, and the Celtic chieftains kept it as a pet animal. 

Although this monkey did not make it to the Celtic pantheon, it is clear it was somehow looked at as a trophy. 

Considering its provenience, the traders must have requested large amounts of gold, so displaying the Barbary macaque could have been considered a sign of wealth and power.

Monkey African Symbolism

When speaking of monkey significance on the African continent, the first thing that comes to our minds is Egyptian mythology and their God of wisdom and science, Thot. 

Often depicted as a man with the head of a baboon, Thot was involved in the development of science and art and the judgment of the dead.

The Baboon symbolism was very powerful during the New Kingdom. Kept initially as ritual animals, baboons impressed the Egyptian people with their intelligence and communication skills. Hence they associated these animals with the moon god.

monkey portrait

Another important figure of the Egyptian pantheon is Hapy, one of the four sons of Horus. Hapy was depicted as a long-nosed baboon. He was considered the guardian of the mummified lungs.

Although the monkeys are associated with positive traits like wisdom or mobility, the Baule people from the Ivory Coast worship the monkey god Gbekre. 

This monkey statue is an important object used during the rituals as Gbekre is the God who judges the dead. However, this monkey god is a helper of those in need as well.

Hemba people from Congo associate the chimpanzees with death and use the misi gwa so’o masks to symbolize life’s departure.

Monkey in Dreams

Dreaming about monkeys is not always a good sign as it might foretell something troublesome in the near future. The monkey dream meaning points towards playfulness, immaturity, trickery.

Monkeys have different ways to sort issues than other animals, hence why the monkey spiritual meaning in dreams is associated with mockery. 

To interpret a dream about monkeys, you should try to remember as much as possible such as the monkey’s emotions or activities.

A happy monkey in a dream is a positive sign, but if you dream of monkey climbing trees, pay attention to thieves. 

monkey on a tree

Dreaming of a monkey licking window means you sense that something new is about to come, but you have no idea whether it is good or bad.

The baby monkey dream is a reminder you need to embrace your childish side. But what does it mean when you dream about monkeys biting you? This monkey dream is a warning that you will face hostility and suspicion.

To dream of monkeys sitting on your shoulder is a positive omen. Someone will visit you soon. Dreaming of a monkey lying dead is also a good sign, urging you to be more mature. It also means that you avoided some harmful actions.

Monkey Encounters and Omens

Now that we’ve seen what does dreaming about monkeys means, it is time to look into some superstitions and omens related to our simian friends.

If, according to the dream interpretation, the monkey is a harbinger of good or bad news, so are the superstitions and omens from different parts of the world.

Although the monkey influenced many cultures, the most interesting superstitions are in India, where this animal is highly regarded. The red-faced monkeys are especially revered as they remind the Indian folks of Lord Hanuman, the monkey god of strength and destroyer of evil.

monkey portrait

Seeing a monkey around noon is a sign of good weather while seeing it in the evening is a good omen foretelling success.

Chinese monkeys were believed to protect horses from disease and evil spirits. Every trading post in ancient China had a monkey talisman in the shape of a monkey statue carved in stone.

In Japan, a very common encounter is the statue of the three monkeys. The monkey statue’s meaning is related to the Buddhist proverb “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” Although initially, this meant a reminder of the spiritual teachings, it became a symbol of organized crime.

Monkey Mythology and Folklore

The stories involving monkeys usually depict these funny creatures as clever tricksters but also capable of great deeds.

Local folklore in Singapore speaks of a mysterious creature called Bukit Timah Monkey Man. Magical or not, people living in the Bukit Timah region swear they saw this monkey man roaming in the area.

We already mentioned the Indian God Lord Hanuman, the faithful companion of Rama. Patron of martial arts, he is also a symbol of excellence through self-control, faith, and meditation. 

The Greek mythology speaks of two brothers, Cercopes, changed by the almighty Zeus into monkeys. 

two monkeys on a tree

These mischievous creatures lived in the forests surrounding Thermopylae, but they might turn up wherever tricks were done. 

Apart from Thot and Hapy, the Egyptians also revered Babi, the chief of the baboons. A deity of the Underworld, Baba was an aggressive and bloodthirsty god who was devouring the souls of the unworthy. Since the baboons have a noticeable libido, Baba was also the God of the dead’s virility.

The folklore of Cambridgeshire speaks of a mythical creature known as the Shug Monkey. Sharing features with both dog and monkey, it is believed that the Shug Monkey is a demon or ghost.

Monkey Spirit Animal

The monkey spirit animal appears whenever you need to let joy into your life. The spiritual meaning of the monkey is also related to tricks. 

This spirit animal might get into your life, turning up suddenly. It gets your attention through surprise and humor, although the monkey message is a serious one. 

As a spirit animal, the monkey comes into your life to teach you that laughter is a great coping mechanism for getting through rough times. 

Also, the spirit monkey wants you to be aware that playing tricks on others has consequences.

The Baboon meaning as a spirit animal is that you need the wisdom to overcome confrontations, and he will come to your life to help you not to feel exploited.

Looking into the chimpanzee symbolism, we can understand why this spirit animal comes to our lives. 

A chimpanzee will show up in your life when you have a strange feeling that you speak a different language. This spirit will guide you to find a different approach and to pay attention to other’s feelings. 

The orangutan spirit animal appears to you as a sign that you must pay more attention to things surrounding you. The answers are there; you just need to see it.

Monkey Totem Animal

The monkey animal totem gives us the desire to explore, to move through the world with smile and joy. People with monkey totems are full of energy and are a motivation for others by uplifting their spirits. 

Having the monkey spirit with you tends to lean towards trickery and fun but without bad intentions. This is why a monkey holding sign makes a good amulet for comedians and all those with monkey totems.

The monkey totem pole is a symbol of practical jokes and good-hearted trickery. And so are the people with the monkey as a totem animal. Baboon totem is associated with judging and defending against danger. Also, the baboon animal totem can bring good fortune.

monkey on a tree

Baboon people are not afraid to show their feelings as showing your real emotions is a courageous thing.

The orangutan symbolism is showing you to accept yourself and to follow your heart. People with this totem are calm and relaxed even in the most stressful situations. 

Furthermore, the monkey dreams where you see an orangutan are a sign that you can overcome harsh times.

We all know what dancing monkey meaning is so, the monkey spirit animal shows you how not to let others intimidate you. It is guiding you through life’s challenges with a bit of fun.

Monkey Power Animal

You should summon your monkey power animal whenever you need to be an innovator. The Monkey medicine card guides you to find the most ingenious solutions to your problems. 

Any decision you make bears consequences and Monkey medicine helps you understand and choose the best option.

The monkey power animal also helps in fitting in and makes you wonder if you should accept the costs associated, such as changing yourself.

As a power animal, the Monkey teaches you to learn how to let go of the load even for a little while. An essential teaching of this power animal is to protect your loved ones at all costs; however, try not to become a loose cannon.

monkey on a tree

If you feel you need some help with sharpening your cognitive skills or you face some communication issues, the chimpanzee power animal is there for you. 

Summon this spirit animal when you need help finding friends as the chimpanzee will strengthen your social skills.

The chimpanzee power animal will also guide you on casting away the anger and frustration and embracing compassion.

The monkey power animal is undoubtedly your best ally when you need wisdom when you need to re-discover your inner child. Monkeys will help you evolve to a better self.

Monkey Tattoo Meaning

Since monkeys have different symbolic meanings in different cultures worldwide, it is hard to pinpoint an exact Monkey tattoo meaning. 

Associated with wisdom, protection, fertility, or justice, a monkey tattoo might have multiple interpretations. It depends on what the design represents for yourself.

If you decide on a tattoo depicting the Monkey king, you should pay attention to the Chinese monkey meaning. Many people born under the monkey sign choose to ink Chinese monkeys’ designs.

The sign monkey tattoos are pretty common, and they symbolize the traits received from this zodiac sign, or they can simply ink the Chinese symbol for monkey, the houzi character.

monkey tattoo on a hand

Tattooing the Monkey King is a bold act, and even if he is often depicted fighting his foes, the symbolism associated with this tattoo is much more profound. Sun Wukong is a symbol of spiritual discipline and redemption. 

However, some people simply don’t mind the monkey’s spiritual meaning and choose as tattoo designs their favorite monkey characters such as Curious George, Abu, or Raffiki. 

Monkey skull tattoo, although it looks cool, has a strong meaning. Symbol of destruction, even death, is chosen by those who went through significant changes.


The playful and naughty monkey is a familiar presence for everybody, but how many of you paid attention to its symbolism? After an in-depth analysis, it is evident that anyone should welcome the monkey spirit as this creature is an excellent spiritual guide.

Just let the monkey spirit enlighten your life!


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