After storytelling at the Decatur Library on Saturday, I stopped by one of my favorite places, Mingei World Arts (www.mingeiworldarts.com), where I came across these charms:
Owner Ann VanSlyke confirmed that they were beetle wings, collected in Thailand. Women attach the wings to their mourning shawls, and the gentle clickety-clack music they make as the women move serves as a constant reminder of their sorrow.
Despite their somber uses, I reacted thusly: Ooooo, pretty! Shiny!
I had to have them. Never mind that they once adorned the body of a BUG.
I would wear them when I give tours at the Carlos Museum at Emory University, I told myself (www.carlos.emory.edu).
In our Egyptian galleries, scarab beetle imagery abounds in amulets, charms and coffin-lid paintings. While the wings from my necklace are from a different species of bettle, kids can still get an idea of their ruggedness and glimmering beauty.
The scarab beetle of ancient Egypt is actually a dung beetle. The bug collects pellets of poo (say THAT five times fast!), where it lays its eggs, rolls the poo into a ball, and moves it across the ground until the eggs hatch.
The Egyptians–keen observers of nature–witnessed beetle babies bursting forth from balls of waste and saw a symbol of rebirth. They too would emerge from death into a new life in the afterworld.
The power and dedication of these critters led them also to imagine that the sun was like a ball of poo (!) and that the winged scarab god, Kehpri, pushed it across the sky every day and rolled it through the underworld every night.
The scarab symbol eventually became the most powerful ancient Egyptian symbol of rebirth, protection and good luck. So, yeah, I sometimes wear a necklace of bug wings. And I love them!