Vintage Decoration: Beetle Wing Art
Today I’d like to talk about beetle wing art and decoration. This kind of jewelry was very popular in Thailand but also in Europe in the 19th century. Perhaps you know that I am half Thai . Thus I am also interested in particular vintage Thai decoration.
In the picture below I am wearing beetle wing earrings by @3rdrockmetalandstone
Beetle wing was used as decoration on royal clothing but also on jewelry. However, the ancient tradition of using Thai beetle wings has mostly died out in Thailand.Beetle wings are the wings of the insect belonging to the genus Sternocera which is called malaeng thap in Thai. The beetle wings are very beautiful because they have an iridescent green and bluish surface. Hence, beetle wings shine like emeralds. Thus, this kind of beetle is also called ‘jewel beetle’.
Since these bugs have a short life span, they are available in abundance and can be collected when they are dead. Then, the bugs’ wings are clipped off and used as sequins for embroidery and jewelry.
The life circle of the jewel beetle starts on the rainy season which is called khao phansa (rains retreat) in Thai. The beetles die off after having laid their eggs in the period ending the rainy season. Therefore, the bugs’ alternative name is “malaeng khao phansa” in Thai which means ‘rains retreat insect’. The dead beetles are collected. Thus their ecosystem remains intact and is not disturbed.
Beetle Wing Art
Most of the wing pieces are an iridescent emerald color. However, you might notice that some wing pieces look slightly orange. This orange shade is quite rare and only found in one out a few hundred beetles. What is special about Thai beetle wing art is that it is extremely durable. Thus, the natural shine of the beetle wings remain for decades and even centuries.
HM Queen Sirikit has also used Thai beetle wing decoration on her clothing and shoes. Today, her granddaughter who is a prominent Thai fashion designer, Princess Sirivannavari, also draws on traditional Thai craftsmanship.
What do you think about Thai beetle wing art and decoration and would you wear it as jewelry or as sequins on clothes? I think beetle wings are a very good alternative to plastic sequins and beads because they come from nature. What is more, they can be considered vintage decoration since their tradition reaches far back into the 19th century.
Finally, you might also want to visit my Thailand blog for more information about beetle wing.