Beetlewing, or beetlewing art, is an ancient craft technique using iridescent beetle wings practiced traditionally in Thailand, Myanmar, India, China and Japan.

Radha and Krishna in Rasamanjari by Bhanudatta, Basohli, c1670
Radha and Krishna in Rasamanjari by Bhanudatta, Basohli, ca. 1670. Opaque watercolour and gold on paper, with applied beetle wing fragments.
Sternocera aequisignata91
Sternocera aequisignata แมลงทับ, a beetle used in Thailand for beetlewing decoration.
Tamamushi Shrine
Tamamushi Shrine, Horyu-ji, Nara prefecture, Japan. Asuka Period, decorated with lacquer and oil painting on wood, gilt bronze plaques, and the iridescent wings of jewel beetle (Tamamushi).


It was common in some of the ancient cultures of Asia to attach beetlewing pieces as an adornment to paintings, textiles and jewelry. Different species of metallic wood-boring beetle wings were used depending on the region, but traditionally the most valued were those from beetles belonging to genus Sternocera. Their wings were valued for their beautiful and hardy metallic emerald iridescence. The shiny appearance of beetlewings is long-lasting. They are surprisingly durable if subject to normal non-abusive use.

In Thailand, beetlewings of wood–boring beetles Sternocera spp. (Thai: แมลงทับ), like Sternocera aequisignata,[1] were preferred to decorate clothing (shawls and Sabai cloth) and jewelry in former court circles. The beetles have a short life span of 3 to 4 weeks in their adult stage. To avoid killing the beetles, only those that die of natural causes are collected.

In 19th-century India exquisite masterpieces of embroidered textiles were produced using beetlewing pieces. These cloth items have survived the passage of time without losing their splendor.[2]

In some instances, the beetle wings will retain their natural sparkle, even though the cloth surrounding them may have decayed.

The species of beetle traditionally used in decorative work in Japan is Chrysochroa fulgidissima, known also as Tamamushi.


In Thailand this ancient tradition has mostly died out. In Bangkok, rare pieces of crafts and jewelry made with beetlewing are displayed at the Dusit Palace complex of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), now a museum.

Thanks to the encouragement and support of HM Queen Sirikit, efforts are being made to preserve this traditional art at the Chitralada Center by supporting artisans who have kept the skill alive.

Modern beetlewing work is usually applied on simple items, like earrings and collage work. These are marketed mostly through tourist-oriented shops.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Life cycle of the rounded jewel beetles, Sternocera spp. วงจรชีวิตของแมลงทับกลมใช้เวลานานถึง 2 ปี – Siam Insect Zoo-Museum
  2. ^ Antique Costumes & Textiles – Beetlewing, Early 19th century
  3. ^ Chitralada – SUPPORT Foundation Archived 2011-05-26 at the Wayback Machine

External links


Apitherapy is a branch of alternative medicine that uses honey bee products, including honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom. Proponents of apitherapy make claims for its health benefits which are unsupported by evidence-based medicine.

At Freddie's

At Freddie's is a novel by British author Penelope Fitzgerald. It concerns the run-down, barely viable Temple Stage School, an acting school for children, known as "Freddie's", after its headmistress Frieda "Freddie" Wentworth.

The children regularly perform as fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Arthur in King John, and the Lost Boys in Peter Pan.

Freddie is relentless in her commitment to traditional stage acting, and continually rejects training for film, television, and commercials.

At Freddie's was Fitzgerald's second novel to be published in the US, although some sources describe it as her first such.


Beadwork is the art or craft of attaching beads to one another by stringing them with a sewing needle or beading needle and thread or thin wire, or sewing them to cloth. Beads come in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes. Beads are used to create jewelry or other articles of personal adornment; they are also used in wall hangings and sculpture and many other artworks.

Beadwork techniques are broadly divided into loom and off-loom weaving, stringing, bead embroidery, bead crochet, bead knitting, and bead tatting.Beads, made of durable materials, survive in the archaeological record appearing with the very advent of modern man, Homo sapiens.Beads are used for religious purposes, as good luck talismans, for barter, and as curative agents.


Beetles are a group of insects that form the order Coleoptera, in the superorder Endopterygota. Their front pair of wings are hardened into wing-cases, elytra, distinguishing them from most other insects. The Coleoptera, with about 400,000 species, is the largest of all orders, constituting almost 40% of described insects and 25% of all known animal life-forms; new species are discovered frequently. The largest of all families, the Curculionidae (weevils) with some 83,000 member species,

belongs to this order. Found in almost every habitat except the sea and the polar regions, they interact with their ecosystems in several ways: beetles often feed on plants and fungi, break down animal and plant debris, and eat other invertebrates. Some species are serious agricultural pests, such as the Colorado potato beetle, while others such as Coccinellidae (ladybirds or ladybugs) eat aphids, scale insects, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects that damage crops.

Beetles typically have a particularly hard exoskeleton including the elytra, though some such as the rove beetles have very short elytra while blister beetles have softer elytra. The general anatomy of a beetle is quite uniform and typical of insects, although there are several examples of novelty, such as adaptations in water beetles which trap air bubbles under the elytra for use while diving. Beetles are endopterygotes, which means that they undergo complete metamorphosis, with a series of conspicuous and relatively abrupt changes in body structure between hatching and becoming adult after a relatively immobile pupal stage. Some, such as stag beetles, have a marked sexual dimorphism, the males possessing enormously enlarged mandibles which they use to fight other males. Many beetles are aposematic, with bright colours and patterns warning of their toxicity, while others are harmless Batesian mimics of such insects. Many beetles, including those that live in sandy places, have effective camouflage.

Beetles are prominent in human culture, from the sacred scarabs of ancient Egypt to beetlewing art and use as pets or fighting insects for entertainment and gambling. Many beetle groups are brightly and attractively coloured making them objects of collection and decorative displays. Over 300 species are used as food, mostly as larvae; species widely consumed include mealworms and rhinoceros beetle larvae. However, the major impact of beetles on human life is as agricultural, forestry, and horticultural pests. Serious pests include the boll weevil of cotton, the Colorado potato beetle, the coconut hispine beetle, and the mountain pine beetle. Most beetles, however, do not cause economic damage and many, such as the lady beetles and dung beetles are beneficial by helping to control insect pests.


Buprestidae is a family of beetles known as jewel beetles or metallic wood-boring beetles because of their glossy iridescent colors. Larvae of this family are known as flatheaded borers. The family is among the largest of the beetles, with some 15,500 species known in 775 genera. In addition, almost 100 fossil species have been described.The larger and more spectacularly colored jewel beetles are highly prized by insect collectors. The elytra of some Buprestidae species have been traditionally used in beetlewing jewellery and decoration in certain countries in Asia, like India, Thailand and Japan.

Chrysochroa fulgidissima

Chrysochroa fulgidissima, "jewel beetle" or tamamushi in Japanese (Japanese kanji: 玉虫、吉丁虫 katakana: タマムシ; lit. 'gem-bug')is a metallic woodboring beetle of the family Buprestidae.

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth is an oil painting by John Singer Sargent. Painted in 1889, it depicts actress Ellen Terry in a famous performance of William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth, wearing a green dress decorated with iridescent beetle wings. The play was produced by Henry Irving at the Lyceum Theatre, London, with Irving also playing Macbeth opposite Terry. Sargent attended the opening night on 29 December 1888 and was inspired to paint Terry's portrait almost immediately.

Flea circus

A flea circus is a circus sideshow attraction in which fleas are attached (or appear to be attached) to miniature carts and other items, and encouraged to perform circus acts within a small housing.

Human interactions with insects

Human interactions with insects include both a wide variety of uses, whether practical such as for food, textiles, and dyestuffs, or symbolic, as in art, music, and literature, and negative interactions including serious damage to crops and extensive efforts to eliminate insect pests.

Academically, the interaction of insects and society has been treated in part as cultural entomology, dealing mostly with "advanced" societies, and in part as ethnoentomology, dealing mostly with "primitive" societies, though the distinction is weak and not based on theory. Both academic disciplines explore the parallels, connections and influence of insects on human populations, and vice versa. They are rooted in anthropology and natural history, as well as entomology, the study of insects. Other cultural uses of insects, such as biomimicry, do not necessarily lie within these academic disciplines.

More generally, people make a wide range of uses of insects, both practical and symbolic. On the other hand, attitudes to insects are often negative, and extensive efforts are made to kill them. The widespread use of insecticides has failed to exterminate any insect pest, but has caused resistance to commonly-used chemicals in a thousand insect species.

Practical uses include as food, in medicine, for the valuable textile silk, for dyestuffs such as carmine, in science, where the fruit fly is an important model organism in genetics, and in warfare, where insects were successfully used in the Second World War to spread disease in enemy populations. One insect, the honey bee, provides honey, pollen, royal jelly, propolis and an anti-inflammatory peptide, melittin; its larvae too are eaten in some societies. Medical uses of insects include maggot therapy for wound debridement. Over a thousand protein families have been identified in the saliva of blood-feeding insects; these may provide useful drugs such as anticoagulants, vasodilators, antihistamines and anaesthetics.

Symbolic uses include roles in art, in music (with many songs featuring insects), in film, in literature, in religion, and in mythology. Insect costumes are used in theatrical productions and worn for parties and carnivals.

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This is a list of existing articles related to fashion and clothing.

For individual designers, see List of fashion designers

Insects in art

Insects have found uses in art, as in other aspects of culture, both symbolically and physically, from ancient times. Artforms include the direct usage of beetlewing (elytra) in paintings, textiles, and jewellery, as well as the representation of insects in fine arts such as paintings and sculpture. Insects have sometimes formed characteristic features of artforms, as in Art Nouveau jewellery.

Insect groups represented in art include bees, beetles, butterflies, orthopterans (crickets, locusts and grasshoppers) and dragonflies.


Moths comprise a group of insects related to butterflies, belonging to the order Lepidoptera. Most lepidopterans are moths, and there are thought to be approximately 160,000 species of moth, many of which have yet to be described. Most species of moth are nocturnal, but there are also crepuscular and diurnal species.


Sternocera is a genus of beetles belonging to the Buprestidae family.

Tamamushi Shrine

The Tamamushi Shrine (玉虫厨子, Tamamushi no zushi) is a miniature shrine owned by the Hōryū-ji temple complex of Nara, Japan. Its date of construction is unknown, but estimated to be around the middle of the seventh century. Decorated with rare examples of Asuka-period paintings, it provides important clues to the architecture of the time and has been designated a National Treasure.Consisting of a low rectangular dais supporting a plinth upon which stands a miniature building 233 centimetres (7 ft 8 in) tall, the Tamamushi Shrine derives its name from the iridescent wings of the tamamushi beetle with which it was once ornamented, but which have now exfoliated. In spite of what its name in English may suggest, the shrine is not a miniature Shinto shrine, as zushi (厨子) is a term for a miniature shrine that houses Buddhist images or sūtra scrolls, in this case a statue of Kannon and small rows of seated bronze Buddhas.

Wings of Fire (novel series)

Wings of Fire is a series of fantasy novels written by Venezuelan-American author Tui T. Sutherland. The novels are set in the fictional dragon-inhabited continents of Pyrrhia and Pantala, and chronicle the quests of young dragons to fulfill prophecies. Each book is written from the perspective of a different character. The series consists of three five-book arcs (the third is currently incomplete), two prequels, and a four-part mini-series known as Winglets.

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