The Cicada Votive Box

6 May 2019 Posted by Hiroyuki Namba

The Cicada Votive Box at Alexander Lamont’s shop – Central Embassy

The Cicada Votive Box is adorned by the Alexander Lamont company logo; a design defined by Alexander after a period of reflection on the ideas and values we aim to express through our designs. The form is a cicada that was inspired by a Han dynasty (200BC-220AD) jade.

Cicada tongue amulet from Han dynasty in nephrite jade

The cicada’s role in East Asian culture is a longstanding and important one. Since ancient times, the cicada has been seen as a symbol of resurrection; an association owing to its fascinating life cycle. Newly hatched insects drop from branches to burrow into the ground, where they nourish themselves on tree roots for as long as seventeen years before emerging into the sunlight. They then climb high into the trees, and their full carapace splits open to allow the fully-formed insects to appear.

Baishi (1864–1957)   “Banyan Leaves and Autumn Cicadas,” (detail), 1923 

This process was admired as an analogy for the spirits of the dead rising on a path to eternal existence in a transcendent realm. In the Han dynasty, jade amulets shaped like cicadas were placed in the mouth of the body to ensure a smooth transition to a new life. But their symbolism was more complex than that. They were also linked to birth and babies were given cicada carvings as symbols of wisdom and as a means to cultivate the soul. They were used by ancient magicians and emperors as an aid to prayer, carved into temple walls.

 A portion of the jade burial suit of Dou Wan, a Han princess

The cicada therefore, symbolizes the creative spirit of Alexander Lamont. It’s spirit is evoked in the extremely rare, hard-won and highly prized skills that are evident on every one of our creations. Through  meticulous, careful and handworked processes boxes and tables and lanterns emerge with their resplendent materials and workmanship. By reviving the precious traditions of the past in his own workshops and applying the luxuries of time and skill to elegant and contemporary designs, Alexander creates elements of vitality that dwell in a place that is deeply creative, but more accessible than art.

 Artisans’ tools in the Alexander Lamont workshops

Cast by hand from lost wax bronze and carved with the famous Cicada insignia of Alexander Lamont, this delightful votive box offers the gorgeous weight of bronze in your hands, and emanates the rich warmth of polished brass when you lift the lid. Shaped as a bowl to enhance the reflectivity of the naked flame, this votive looks beautiful on a vanity or console, or on the coffee table as a talking piece among friends.

The Cicada Votive Box

The special edition piece was created for the occastion of the 5th Anniversary of Central Embassy. In May 2014 Alexander Lamont opened his shop on the 2nd Level of the beautiful Central Embassy Mall – so named because it is built on the former historical site of the British Embassy in Bangkok. 

Alexander Lamont’s shop at Central Embassy

Alexander Lamont’s jewel-box space at Central Embassy showcases the best of his lifestyle collections, all individually designed and handcrafted in his Bangkok workshops using rare and precious materials.

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