The praying mantis is an ancient insect that thrives in tropical zones around the world. The earliest known mantis was dug up in Siberia and is believed to be 135 million years old.
Due to its physical characteristics and ancient history, the praying mantis has assumed great spiritual significance in cultures around the world.
The praying mantis has two compound eyes and three other simpler eyes. Many mantis species have great flexibility throughout their body, including their neck. Many mantises can rotate their heads beyond 180 degrees around. Their deadliest appendage is their forearms in which they can catch and hold other insects, allowing them to feed upon them at their will.
The majority of praying mantises hunt via ambush. The predator will either camouflage itself among the surrounding vegetation or remain completely still and wait until its prey comes within close reach. The color changing ability of these insects allows them to simultaneously hunt effectively and avoid other predators higher on the food chain.
The speed, balance, and grace of the praying mantis has caused many cultures to give a high degree of respect to the insect. For example, the mantis has spawned not one, but two styles of martial arts defense. They are known respectively as ‘Northern praying mantis’ and ‘Southern praying mantis.’
People wear the image of the praying mantis to remind themselves of their place in the universe. They do not delude themselves into believing that they can be the top predator in the jungle—that role is reserved for just a few. Instead, they capitalize on the tools they have at hand, and do the best they can to achieve a state of grace.