Cultural Entomology Digest, Issue 3
Welcome to the third issue of Cultural Entomology Digest. This issue focuses on “grigs” and cicadas, otherwise know as “singing insects.” The name “grig” is a resurrected term for orthopteroid insects, specifically crickets, katydids, and cicadas. Singing insects are among the most revered and cherished insects for their abilities to make music and bring us closer to nature. This insect/man relationship enjoys a long cultural history in both China and Japan.
In Your Ear
An introductory article to the third issue of Cultural Entomology Digest. Appreciation for the sounds of insects is culturally ingrained and has resulted in a two and a half thousand year history of cricket captivity.
The contemporary pattern and alphabet designs of William Rowe can be found in two Dover Publication books entitled “Nature Fantasy Designs” and “Exotic Alphabets and Ornaments.” William Rowe was a master of patternation with numerous insect references.
What a jewel to be found in UK’s extraordinarily prolific fantasy illustrator who’s imagery themes run rampant with insectoid inspirations. Check out his books “In Search of Forever” and “Last Ship Home.”
Greek Cricket Cage
Theokritos of Syracuse wrote in 282 B.C. “He plaits meanwhile then, with ears of corn, a right fine cricket cage.” Found in the Greek Peloponnesus, artistically platted strands of barley forming a beautiful conical cage, perhaps of similar style to referenced container.
Dr. Keith McE. Kevan
Paying tribute to the late Dr. D. K. McE. Kevan, this article illustrates this man’s remarkable history and prolific research about “grigs” – singing insects. The author of “The Land of the Locusts” series – a voluminous collection of orthopteroid references in literature.
Dong Ba scriptures from the Yunnan Province of China include various insects. The butterfly, ant, bee, fly and silkworm cocoon are used to elucidate metaphors, illustrate religious standpoints or are used as portents of calamity or good omen.
Chinese Cricket Culture
Crickets have been deeply intertwined within Chinese culture for two thousand years. Ranging from an appreciation for their sweet chirping to gambling on the valiant battles of cricket fighting matches, Chinese cricket culture is very much alive today.
Japanese Singing Insects
A loose collection of notes on Japanese cultural references to singing insects. Much as in Chinese culture, the Japanese are partial to the sounds of singing crickets and house their singing captives in a wide variety of containers.
Cicada in Chinese Folklore
An ancient Chinese symbol for rebirth, Buddhism teachings draw on their symbolism as the Egyptians did with the scarab. Funeral jades and girdle pendants formed the mosts common manifestations of this symbolic insect.
Cicadas in Ancient Greece
Illustrating the plethora of cicada references found in ancient Greek culture, Rory Egan explores symbolism found in Mycenaen artifacts, Homer’s Iliad, Plato’s Phaedrus and pastoral epigrams. The cicada symbolized Eros, resurrection, rebirth and immortality.
Locust Frenzy (back cover)
Created in Ray Dream Designer and Photoshop, the back cover sports a swarm of locusts floating over a misty backdrop of “chirp-sound” histograms.