Sugar skull 2.

Cicada beetle eyes. Blanket stitched felt, sequin and cross-stitch detail. Framed (65cm x 75cm)

This is another take on the sugar skull motif, combining influences from the Far East and South America. The eyes are formed by cicada beetles, which symbolise transformation through the shedding of an old shell. They are found commonly in the Far East and South America.

The blue and green ‘eyebrows’ are a nod to the stepped temples of the Aztec and Inca. South America is of course home to the sugar skull, a rich confectionary modelled after the bejewelled human skulls unearthed by archaeologists. The cicada was a staple food for those cultures and is still eaten in the region today.

In China the cicada is also eaten for commonplace nourishment and its shell is used in the traditional medicines. Food is an important aspect of ritual and the cicadas stress the nature of the sugar skull as something that has become a universal symbol of transformation, of death either literal or symbolic as the sustainer of life.

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