The main medicinal ingredient in Senkesin was something called “masculinum,” and in one Thai advertisements that I read it said that this ingredient came from the secret sex glands of langurs (a kind of monkey).
However, I’m not sure how accurate that advertisement was. First, it called the medicine “Sinkesin,” whereas in other places I’ve seen it called “Senkesin.” Second, the box for this medicine has two monkeys on it that look like your average chimpanzees, so I’m not sure exactly which type of primate the secret ingredient in Senkesin came from, but it was apparently from a monkey.
I’ve been reading a newspaper from Singapore called the Union Times and Sinkesin was clearly a major sponsor of this paper. For a while in the late 1930s, Senkesin had big advertisements on the front page of the paper every Sunday.
I think this one here is just lovely. The big chimp in the back looks so merciful. He (I think that’s a “he”) is holding out his arms and accepting all of the suffering and weak members of the human race, and he is being helped by some smaller monkeys in this task.
What are these people suffering from? Well let’s take a closer look.
The woman lying in the front is suffering from dysmenorrhea, or stoppage of the menses (經閉), and menstrual pain or cramps (經痛).
The guy sleeping on the left is suffering from nocturnal emissions (遺精). It is obviously draining him of all of his vital energy.
The man standing in the back that the monkey is checking is physically weak (体弱), although it’s not clear why. Meanwhile the main who is standing and who has one hand on his head has anaemia cerebri, or anemia in the brain (腦貧血).
Then the guy sitting with a hat on has stomach pain (胃瘑). The man lying down on his back in front of the man with the hat has sexual debility (腎虧), and the sleeping woman on the right is unable to conceive (不育).
Wow! How merciful it was of the Senkesin monkeys to accept and help all of these suffering people.
This theme of being merciful comes through particularly powerfully in this advertisement here. On the left we see a young modern couple. They are not getting along because they are unable to have a baby.
The wife goes to the temple to pray to the Buddha, but it doesn’t work. Finally, a friend tells her about Senkesin and. . . Voilà! They have a baby boy.
This main image is also nice. On the right side of the picture is the expression 南無阿彌陀 which is a transliteration in Chinese characters of the Sanskrit expression “Namo Amitābhāya,” which means something like “homage to infinite light,” meaning “homage to the Buddha.”
Pronounced “Nan wu a mi tuo [fo]” in Mandarin and “Nam Mô A Di Đà [Phật]” in Vietnamese, this expression is read for what these sounds represent in Sanskrit, not for what the characters literally mean in Chinese.
However, in this advertisement, the meaning of the characters is important. “Nan wu/Nam Mô” literally means “the south does not have.” So if those two characters are read for meaning, then the expression could be read to say something like “the south does not have infinite light/the Buddha.”
This is in contrast to what is on the left-hand side of the picture. On the left-hand side of the picture is 西有生機腺, or “the West has Senkesin.”
Senkesin was supposedly from Germany, so this advertisement is basically saying: use Western medicine and stop praying to the Buddha, because Senkesin has more power than the Buddha does when it comes to things like helping people to have babies.
So the Senkesin monkeys were not only merciful, but they were very powerful as well.
Indeed, even King Kong relied on their power. Next time you watch a King Kong movie, be sure to keep an eye out for the box of Sinkesin that he always carried around with him.
南無大慈猴子 “Homage to the Great Monkeys of Mercy”!!