The cicada is a species of flying insect that is best known in the animal kingdom for it’s ability to sing in a loud tone.
They have been referenced, even featured sometimes, in literature across various cultures through the ages.
They also feature prominently in western and eastern mythology.
And artifacts with their designs have been uncovered from as far back as the Shang dynasty.
They are called chan (蝉) in mandarin. But also often referred to as guo guo (蟈蟈) which generally refers to a cricket.
Legend of the cicada
Many of us might have seen movies where people found insects inside a dead person’s mouth.
Those are usually cicada.
In ancient times, wealth families and royalty would bury their loved ones who have passed away with a cicada carved out of jade in their mouths.
It is believed that such rituals would enable their ancestors to be immortalized and continue with a comfortable life after death.
This symbolism is in part due to the insect’s natural life cycle where it regenerates itself and emerge from the old skin almost as if it’s a new insect.
In the world of the living, cicadas are regarded as a strong symbol of longevity and everlasting happiness.
This is partly because they are one of the longest living insects, with some rumored to be able to survive for a whopping 18 years!
That is a long time to be buzzing around.
Then there is the legend of a benevolent queen of the Qi state who died and reborn as a cicada. And one of her attributes is that she never grew old.
This is why the cicada can also represent youthfulness.
In the classic novel journey to the west, the protagonist Tang (唐三蔵) was actually a reincarnation of the golden cicada (金蝉子).
Oddly enough, the cicada is associated with protection from harm caused by politics.
This is not because it spots a presidential look. But because the insect is reputed to alert people of danger, government officials in the past used to carry them as an amulet of protection against unfriendly colleagues and backstabbers.
When a cicada is depicted resting on a hat, it symbolizes an honorable man who has ethical principles.
When pictured with chrysanthemums, it represents a wish for someone to attain a high rank as an official.
The singing cicada is also often used in rituals performed by taoist practitioners.
Feng shui and cicada
The cicada is mostly used in feng shui as a personal emblem for protection against enemies.
It can be used as a pendant on a necklace, on the keychain, or even as a paperweight on the work desk.
While the most potent ones are believe to be made of jade, do note that you don’t have to buy them in the higher grade jadeite to call on it’s protective powers.
And even though it is mostly carried around by people for protection, don’t forget that it also has associations with longevity, youth, and a subtle notion of wealth.
Finally, if you are setting them up for placement in the house, do be mindful not to leave it in sight of a money frog.
That spells disaster.