WIKI : What is the symbolism of the dragonfly in Japan ? (EN)
Living fossils, dragonflies are part of the most ancient group of insects on this planet. They were soaring through the air and lived on earth for a staggering three hundred million years. Compared to humans, they are very old indeed. We have only been around fro about 2 million years. Insects were the first creatures in the world to fly. Dragonflies were flying in steamy prehistoric forest long before the dinosaurs appeared. We know about these ancient dragonflies through fossils. Back then, dragonflies were much larger and had wingspans of 80 cm (31.5 inches) and were the largest insects known. Today, dragonflies are smaller, with wingspans up to 14 cm (5.5 in).
Over the centuries, people thought about dragonflies in many ways. In ancient times, Japanese farmers believed the dragonfly was the spirit of the rice plant. Dragonflies were a welcome sign of a good rice harvest. Dragonflies were also believed to bring good luck in battle. About 1600 years ago, the dragonfly was the symbol of a great Japanese warrior clan. The dragonfly later became one of the emblems of the emperor. An old name for Japan - Akitsu-shimu - means Dragonfly Island. The dragonfly is praised in many Japanese poems and songs.
The Mimbres people of the American southwest painted the dragonfly on ceremonial pottery as a symbol of life.
The Zuni tell an ancient story of a magic dragonfly made from corn and straw. It came to life in a time of drought and famine, became a messenger to the gods, and helped save the people. But not everyone has liked dragonflies.
In Great Britain, they were once considered evil and dangerous. Because people saw them darting at horses, the dragonflies were called "horse-stingers." They didn't realize the dragonflies were snatching horseflies, the real "horse-stingers."
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