May 25, 2019

Nang Chong stories : Butterflies

The Yellow Birdwing was a common butterfly found in the Rajang Valley and kept many of us children amused when we were growing up on the river banks of the huge Rajang River.

Troides helena - upperside.JPG

My maternal grandmother would sit at the balcony in the morning, fanning herself and telling stories to any kids not yet old enough to go to school.

One of her favourite stories was about the Butterfly Lovers, a pair of star crossed loves, Liong Sang Berk, Chu Ing Dai. (Butterfly Lovers' Concerto is a great piece of music.)

If she saw a butterfly flitting around the house, she would start recalling her stories about the Butterfly Lovers and she would name all the stars in the various films like Lo Ti and Lin Poh. She was very impressed by Li Han Shiang as a director of the movie Love Eterne or.梁山伯與祝英台

But to her, all butterflies were spirits of people who had died.  She would observe two butterflies dancing in the air and exclaim how beautiful they were. Because of her beliefs about folk lores, at that time I thought she would not have made a good biology teacher. Later all my biology teachers were foreign missionary teachers using English as the medium of instruction.

I often wondered then what it was like to be taught science in Foochow!!

The Yellow Birdwing (Troides helena), is a beautiful and large butterfly belonging to the Swallowtail family (Papilionidae). It is a vulnerable and protected species because activities such as unregulated collection from the wild and habitat loss via rapid development and deforestation are continuously taking place.

Today it is hard to find the lovely and lively yellow birdwing in the villages .

I am glad that they are bred at the Penang Butterfly farm, where they are consistently bred for exhbition and partly for rleasing them back to the wild.

The Yellow Birdwing caterpillars feed only on a specific plant which is Aristolochia tagala, a rare and wild jungle climber.  The Malays pound the leaves and apply to the head to treat fever. In the PHilippines it is a cure for snake bite4s and malaria.

In Indian is considered a tonic, carminative and emmernagogue.
Source : Wikipedia.

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