ENT001Religion%20and%20Culture2008 - Lecture Insects in...

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Unformatted text preview: Lecture Insects in Religious and Cultural Affairs Lecture Goals The role of insects in religion, culture and mythology, including: Scarab Beetles Bees, Wasps and other Stinging Insects Butterflies Praying Mantids and other Predators Cicadas, crickets and other singers PiercingPiercing-sucking plant feeding insects Literature and Music Insects as Culinary Delights The Scarab Beetle A Central Symbol of Ancient Egypt p Reproductions of the scarab have been discovered in Egypt 3,000 B.C. An embalmed scarab has been found (dated from 700 33 B.C.) 1 What did the scarab represent? In sacred written documents the hieroglyph representation of the scarab stands for creative power and is interpreted as the god of Creation, Cheper (Kheper/Xeper). Kheper/Xeper). Associated with other gods of Creation Creation, becoming the symbol of creation. Came to signify the soul which was to unite with the god of Creation. Represents the abstract concept, “cheper” which originally means, “to cheper” become, to come into being”. KHEPER ''transformation - evolution - metamorphosis'' All the beetles, AKA scarabs are meant to be more than just decorative. They stand for a concept, represented by the Egyptian word Kheper, also spelled Xeper (using the Greek 'X' Chi for the first letter), and pronounced 'Kheffer'. In Egyptian, 'heiroglyph' means 'sacred writings. Glyph is 'symbol', and heiro is 'sacred'. Thus, XEPER acquires sacred significance as it is no ordinary word. It means 'becoming'. In English, 'becoming' has no sacred significance. But to the Egyptians and those of us today who harken to their wisdom, it means the whole sphere of metamorphosis, transformation, evolution and growth in the spiritual realm, as well as the physical realm. From: http://www.aztriad.com/kheper.html The god Cheper is one of the many outward forms assumed by the god Ra. He is usually represented with a scarab above his head and in certain cases has a scarab in place of a human head. 2 Why was the scarab used for these representations? Biology, morphology and behavior Extremely important in the ecosystem wherever there is dung. Adults actively seek f fresh d h dung. Why was the scarab used for these representations? Morphology: Large. The legs usually have ray-like extensions that, when the raybeetle was perched on a dung ball, reminded Egyptians of the rays of the sun. The l Th legs have readily visible segments. Th tarsi h h dil i ibl The i have 5 segments, (5 X 6 legs=30, approximating the lunar month). Behavior: Dung rolling behavior is fascinating and noticeable. Egyptians equated this with the sun moving across the sky during the course of a day, one of the functions of the sun god Ra. Reproductive behavior that fit a model of reincarnation, rebirth, metamorphosis. A ball of dung is buried. Later a perfect new beetle arises. Why was the scarab used for these representations? Believed they were only males and that new life arose via “creation” “The beetles were revered because it was believed that in them, obscure images of the power of the gods could be perceived; in the sex of beetles there are no females, only males, which deposit their seed in a ball formed out of dung; they roll this along pushing it from behind, just as the sun gives the appearance of driving the sky in the opposite direction as it moves from setting to rising.” --Greek philosopher Plutarch (A.D. 46-120). --Greek 46-120). “This beetle is a creature possessing no members of the female sex. It allows its seed to fall into balls of dung which it rolls along. It does this for 28 days, until the ball is warmed through, and the next day it brings forth its young. Those Egyptians of a warlike disposition bear a scarab engraved upon their rings, by which the lawmaker indicates that all who fight for their country must without exception show manliness, just as the beetle has nothing female in its nature.” --Claudius Aelianus (160-240) --Claudius (160“The scarab is venerated because, like the creator who has shaped the world, it too makes use of the most perfect mathematical form for its creation shaped out of dung.”--Greek philosopher Plato (427-347 B.C.) dung.”--Greek (427- 3 Jean Henri Fabre Born Died December 22, 1823 Saint-Léons October 11, 1915 Nationality French Fields entomology Types of Scarab Representations Amulet reliquaries. Huge sculptures in temples. Seals made of amethyst, carnelian, etc..and set in metal finger rings. Bearing names of kings or historical commemorations (analogous to contemporary commemorative coins). Types of Scarab Representations Amulets for good fortune, inscriptions in keeping with this purpose were common: “good health”, “life”, “good wishes”, “my heart is true”. Seemingly a fashionable custom rather than religious. religious. Heart scarabs or breast amulets: religious text with chapters from the Book of the Dead (usually chapter 30). These were placed upon the breast of the dead or the mummified heart. 4 Importance of Scarabs in the Book of the Dead Dead man pays homage to Cheper (Vignette from the Book of the Dead) Veneration of the Scarab in Other Religions Classical doctrine of Gnostics (sects arising in the 2nd century—”true Christians”—actually a blend of Christian century— Christians”— and Non-Christian doctrines). NonRepresented scarabs on amulets. Often three scarabs in a row, interpreted as a symbol of the Trinity. In front of them 3 falcons were usually represented as souls of the just, behind them 3 crocodiles or snakes representing the souls of the wicked. wicked. In the Israelite religion, kerub, the Guardian of kerub, Paradise, mentioned in the old testament, is sometimes derived from a pockmarked scarab (species who are covered with indented spots). The Prophet Ezekiel wrote of the cherubim: “Their entire body, neck, hands and wings were full of eyes.” The Scarab Beetle As Medicine Egyptian Papyrus Ebers, dating from 1500 Ebers, B.C., formula for exorcism: “Split the (living) scarabaeus down the centre with a bronze knife, take the left half of it and tie it to the left arm.” arm.” As the symbol of the Sun God, scarabs were a remedy for the four-day fever (malaria?) fourProtection against bewitchment Often added to snake oil and provided to patients who consumed it for various ailments. 5 The Scarab Beetle As A Symbol of Evil Arabian civilization (1300 AD) Considered medicinal, but also feared. Arose from dung, considered deadly. Dreams including a beetle considered a sign that a deadly enemy would appear. appear. Greek civilization Scorned scarab cults Ridiculed in Greek comedies (445-386 (445BC) Christianity (medieval times) Symbol of a sinner Considered heretics Arise from dung, thought to be se o du g, t oug t defiled with the stench of heresy. Balls of dung thought to be evil thoughts and heresies created out of wickedness and foulness. Bees, Wasps and Other Stinging Insects Revered and used as symbols in religion, religious items, totems and as family heralds Numerous and fierce in their attack Effective warriors Persistent in defending their homes Inflict painful wounds Industrious, skilled architects and designers Symbols of virginity, mating was never observed as it takes place in flight. Associated with providing honey 6 Bees, their products and behaviors were known to the Prophet Mohammed (570(570632 AD). AD). The Koran-Koran-Surah 16, An-Nahl An68 And your lord inspired the bee saying “Take bee, saying, Take you habitation in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect.” erect.” 69. “Then, eat of all fruits, and follow the ways of your lord made easy for you. There comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for men. Verily, in this is indeed a sign for people who think. Stinging/Biting Insects: Bees, Wasps, Flies Insects Fierce, dangerous, persistent, capable of inflicting pain, driving away the most powerful enemies Egyptian heiroglyphs (back to 3100 BC) Founder of the first dynasty, King Menes, chose th h the hornet, V t Vespa orientalis, as th symbol f hi i t li the b l for his kingdom. Respect for the destructive powers of insects as a protective force ie. ie. God of the Philistines--Beelzebub, lord of the Philistines--Beelzebub, flies. Powerful, foretold disease. Later, in the New Testament Beelzebub is the prince of devils. Beelzebub (more accurately Ba‘al Zebûb or Ba‘al Zebûb, appears as the name of a deity worshipped in the Philistine city of Ekron. It is later the name of a demon or devil, often interchanged with Beelzebul. In ancient context, there may be little meaningful distinction between Beelzebub and Ba‘al the ancient Semitic god. In Christian writings, either form may appear as an alternate name for Satan (or the Devil) or may else appear to refer to the name of a lesser devil. As with several religions, the names of any earlier foreign or "pagan" deities often became synonymous with the concept of an adversarial entity. The demonization of the ancient deity led to much of the modern religious personification of Satan, as the adversary of the God. From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beelzebub 7 In Solomon's Clavicules, Belzebuth appeared as a So o o s C av cu es, e ebut appea ed an enormous calf or a goat with a long tail, but with the face of a fly. Belzebuth appeared to Faust 'dressed like a bee and with two dreadful ears and his hair painted in all colors with a dragon's tail.' The Marechal of Retz described him as a leopard. He breathed fire and howled like a wolf when angry. Butterflies and Moths Metamorphosis as an apt metaphor for life, death, and resurrection The Greek word “psyche” means both butterfly and soul. Butterflies appear frequently in Greek writing. In Egypt, the b I E h butterfly was the symbol of fl h b l f Osiris, who was supposed to have been confined after his death in an oak coffin until he rose again, with renewed life. The butterfly symbol also appears in Oriental and FinnoFinno-Ugric mythology. Moths often associated with an impending death. Praying Mantids In Africa, the praying mantis plays an important role in religion of many tribes. Northern Swahili call it kukuwazuka or “fowl of the ghosts”. Thonga b li Th believe it t b an emissary of to be i f ancestor gods. Forbidden as food items (would be eating your ancestor!) Asian culture, Kung Fu, respected for fighting skill, defensive movements 8 Cicadas, Crickets and Other Singers Cicadas are in many creation myths (eg. The (eg. Navaho) Ancient Chinese regarded cicadas as symbols of rebirth and immortality. Appear decorating pottery, in ancient manuscripts, manuscripts on ceremonial axes jade cups and axes, buckles. Many jade carvings were funeral jades, amulets of death, tongue amulets--placed in the mouth of amulets--placed the deceased to help their passage and reincarnation. It is interesting that the latter practice was also conducted by the Mayans. Appear often in Japanese poetry and medicine. Crickets as pets, elaborate cages. The mythology associated with the humpback flute player was widespread in the Anasazi and then Navaho cultures. These mythologies are a vital testimony to the high degree of familiarity that early peoples had with their environment. environment. Top: Petroglyph from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, showing flute players, planting sticks and sprouting seed. Bottom: Flute player effigy pitcher from the Anasazi culture resembles the exuvium of a cicada nymph. Behavior and Metamorphosis The humpbacked flute player is the human form of the cicada and plays a central role in the Navaho creation (emergence) myth and is found on pottery, murals and in petroglyphs. Also found on Hohokam and Mimbres pottery. Reputed to be petroglyphs. a fertility symbol, harbinger of new plant life, creator of warmth (by playing his flute). Sometimes mistakenly called Kokopelli. Kokopelli. 9 Hopi and Related Pueblo Tribes: Kokopelli Kokopelli is the Hopi interpretation of the p p p humpbacked flute player, but they are not completely equivalent. Kokopelli is derived from a robber fly model (above). Robberflies are predators, they do not sing, but they bite. The Kokopelli kachina (left) shows many of the attributes of the robber fly. Evidence that the Hopi definitely made the distinction between a robber fly and a cicada is found in the fact that a cicada kachina, kachina, called Mahu, appears in spring Mahu, dances. Insects and Aboriginal Art Left: this design depicts the honeypot ant, a favorite food for the Aboriginal people. Pigments were derived from ants nests (limonite) and bees wax. Right: Didjeridu is a wooden wind instrument made from tree limbs previously hollowed by termites. Sculpture by Michael Lucero 10 PiercingPiercing-sucking Plant Feeding Insects Lac, used in varnish (shellac), insulation, playing cards, chocolate glazes, polishes, inks, etc. Derived from a scale insect, Laccifer lacca. Produce a resin that binds huge populations of breeding females to trees and other plants. Most is produced in India (40 million pounds annually). annually). Cochineal scale: cultivated on Opuntia (Prickly Pear Cactus). 25,000 insects = one pound of cochineal scales. 3 pounds insects = one pound of dye. dye. Scales in the desert are a source of nutrition-nutrition-honeydew. Manna that rained from heaven to sustain the Israelites was actually the honeydew of the scale, Trabutina mannipara. mannipara. Literature and Music Literature: Aesop’s Fables The Hungry Caterpillar Insects Are My Life y Music: Flight of the Bumblebee Madame Butterfly Insects As Culinary Delights Have long been eaten: Leviticus 11: “You may eat of all winged creeping things that go upon all fours which have legs above their feet…”, continues to describe different locust stages. Mohammed ate locusts--permissible under Muslim dietary laws. locustslaws. Why eat i Wh t insects as f d? t food? food d? Abundant--efficient Abundant--efficient harvest (migratory grasshoppers, Mopane worms Efficient with regard to resource allocation and energy conversion (don’t necessarily need to eat the same food we do, e.g. beef require grain that could be eaten by humans Convert their food to biomass we can eat at a rate roughly 6X more efficient than beef or sheep (efficiency of conversion, 100# of chicken feed = 38-40# of chicken; 100# of cattle food - 10# of 38beef) 11 Insects As Culinary Delights: Highly Nutritious At least 500 species of insects are forming a regular part of the diet of people all over the world. Kcal/100g Protein/g CA/g Phos/mg Niacin/mg Macrotermes (termite) 613 14.2 .438 9.5 Pork 333 12-25 0.011 .270 12- 5.8 Chicken 166 15-31 0.011 .265 15- 10.7 Shrimp 92.3 8 Honey Bee --- 15.2 Emperor Moth (Mopane Worm) 370 28 African Palm Weevil 561 0.04 7 Unifying Principles Insects have been dominant forces in the lives of humans since the time of the first humans. Their creative activities are readily noticeable: web spinning, building of hives, etc… Their morphology and size can be impressive. Their life cycles provide excellent metaphors for metamorphosis, resurrection, etc. The intricacy of the songs they sing are compelling and readily noticeable. 12 ...
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This note was uploaded on 10/03/2009 for the course ENT 1 taught by Professor Ullman during the Fall '08 term at UC Davis.

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