Cultural Entomology Digest, Issue 4
Welcome to the fourth issue of Cultural Entomology Digest. This issue focuses on butterfly and moth cultural entomological references. Butterflies are perhaps the most popular group of all insects and cary symbolic meaning for almost every human culture. Their general beauty and harmless demeanor allow many individuals to perceive this group in a positive light when compared to most other insect groups.
Passion Vine Times
An introductory article describing how butterflies and moths intertwining themselves throughout our lives. Read about Margaret Fountaine and the history of butterfly farming through its present revival.
Numerous Japanese crests are designed from the butterfly form. Used by courtiers, families, businesses even cities, these renditions are clean and extremely stylized representations of their living counterparts.
Probably the most popular form of lepidopteral photography comes from the abstract naturalist style of Kjell Sandved’s Butterfly Alphabet. Macrophotography revealing our letterforms within the wings of butterflies and moths.
Schmetterling, psyche, papilionis and mariposa are all words for butterfly. Did you know bow-tie pasta are actually fashioned after butterflies, or that German folklore declares butterflies to be witches out to steal schmetten or cream.
Butterflies of Ancient Mexico
The ancient Mexican Aztec, Mayan and Chichimec cultures all studied butterflies. They deified the Western Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio multicaudatus, as the goddess Xochiquetzal and the Saturniid silk moth, Rothschildia orizaba, as the goddess Itzpap�lotl.
Native American Mythology
The Blackfeet Indians believe dreams are brought to us in sleep by a butterfly. One Hopi pueblo was known as the butterfly clan and the butterfly’s spirit was personified in a kachina figure known as Poli Taka – “The Butterfly Man.”
Cicely Mary Barker
The timeless appeal of fairies adorned with butterfly wings lives on in the illustrations of Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies. Cicely modeled her fairies from children she knew at the local nursery and dressed them with British flower garments and butterfly wings.
Moth Cocoon Artifacts
Aside from their primary exploitation for silk, moth cocoons have also been utilized for rattles, necklaces and other artifacts. Kept dry, some cocoons are extremely tough and make compact containers, ideal for use as rattles.
Forging ground in the popularization of invertebrate art, Annemieke Mein intentionally selects lesser known insects as subjects for her detailed textile sculptures. Intense field observations reveal the unique characteristics of the specimens she recreates in fabric.
Clearly illustrating the enormous diversity of butterfly and moth symbolism, Ron Gagliardi brings together a fascinating index explaining everything from why butterflies symbolize beauty to how moths are associated with insanity.