When it comes to symbols and motifs in fashion, there’s one that has truly stood the test of time… the not so humble butterfly. You see it time and time again on garments of all kinds - including our very own butterfly print scarf!
Over the years, butterflies themselves have come to symbolise all sorts of interesting ideas and concepts, but the most enduring of all appears to be an association with the human soul.
This could have something to do with the idea of transformation. After all, butterflies begin life as a caterpillar and then emerge from their cocoon with a beautiful new set of wings, ready to take flight. It’s not much of a leap to translate this to our own life, death and rebirth.
All over the world and in lots of different cultures, in fact, butterflies are thought to represent the souls of loved ones who have passed. And, even more interestingly, it was actually illegal to kill white butterflies in Ireland in the 1600s, as it was widely believed that these fluttering insects represented the souls of dead children.
In Korea, meanwhile, a long-held belief (and one that is still in evidence in Korean culture even now) was that touching a butterfly was bad luck and that their wings contained magical dust that could cause blindness if it made contact with the eyes.
And in Japan, the butterfly has come to symbolise the blossoming of womanhood, while in China it has associations with a sense of leisure, immortality and joyfulness in young men in love.
But in European folklore, the butterfly doesn’t have such positive connotations. In Serbia, for example, it’s thought that witches and butterflies are linked and a popular adage is: “Kill the butterfly and you kill a witch.”
It’s a fascinating subject into which this is just a glimpse… so if you want to find out more about butterflies and what they’ve come to symbolise over the centuries, you certainly won’t be disappointed!