Three Wise Monkeys
A 400 year old Japanese image for a 2,500 year old Chinese code of conduct.
The three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil. "Never be blinded, Turn a deaf ear nor fail to speak out. To do nothing is Evil."
There are various meanings ascribed to the monkeys and the proverb including associations with being of good mind, speech and action. In the Western world the phrase is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by turning a blind eye.
Just as there is disagreement about the origin of the phrase, there are differing explanations of the meaning of "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
In Buddhist tradition, the tenets of the proverb are about not dwelling on evil thoughts.
In the Western world both the proverb and the image are often used to refer to a lack of moral responsibility on the part of people who refuse to acknowledge impropriety, looking the other way or feigning ignorance.
It may also signify a code of silence in gangs, or organized crime.