Butterfly flying free from cupped hands
A colorful butterfly flying free from cupped hands releasing it over the rippling water.
According to Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, by Lafcadio Hearn, a butterfly was seen in Japan as the personification of a person's soul; whether they be living, dying, or already dead. One Japanese superstition says that if a butterfly enters your guestroom and perches behind the bamboo screen, the person whom you most love is coming to see you. However, large numbers of butterflies are viewed as bad omens. When Taira no Masakado was secretly preparing for his famous revolt, there appeared in Kyoto so vast a swarm of butterflies that the people were frightened — thinking the apparition to be a portent of coming evil.
The Russian word for "butterfly", бабочка (bábochka), also means "bow tie". It is a diminutive of "baba" or "babka" (= "woman, grandmother, cake"), whence also "babushka" = "grandmother".
The ancient Greek word for "butterfly" is ψυχή (psȳchē), which primarily means "soul" or "mind".
According to Mircea Eliade's Encyclopedia of Religion, some of the Nagas of Manipur trace their ancestry from a butterfly.
Butterfly and Chinese wisteriaflowers, by Xü Xi (c.886–c.975), painted around 970 during the early Song Dynasty.In Chinese culture, two butterflies flying together symbolize love. Also, Butterfly Lovers is a famous Chinese folktale. The Taoist philosopher, Zhuangzi, once had a dream about being a butterfly that flew without care about humanity; however; when he awoke and realized that it was just a dream, he thought to himself, "Was I before a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?"
In some old cultures, butterflies also symbolize rebirth after being inside a cocoon for a period of time.
Jose Rizal delivered a speech in 1884 at a banquet and mentioned "the Oriental chrysalis ... is about to leave its cocoon", comparing the emergence of a "new Philippines" with that of butterfly metamorphosis. He has also often used the butterfly imagery in his poems and other writings to express the Spanish Colonial Filipinos' longing for liberty. Much later, in a letter to Ferdinand Blumentritt, Rizal compared his life in exile to a weary butterfly with sun-burnt wings.
Der Schmetterlingsjäger (The butterfly hunter) by Carl Spitzweg (1840), a depiction from the era of butterfly collection.Some people say that when a butterfly lands on you it means good luck. However, in Devonshire, people would traditionally rush around to kill the first butterfly of the year that they see, or else face a year of bad luck. Also, in the Philippines, a lingering black butterfly or moth in the house is taken to mean that someone in the family has died or will soon die.
The idiom "butterflies in the stomach" is used to describe a state of nervousness. - Wikipedia