Live jewelry or bling slavery?

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A fashion statement that melds instant glue, a tenebrionid beetle, jewelry, and a marked insensitivity to creepy-crawlies on your bosom isn’t welcome on this side of the border. The maquech brooch, a concept attributed to the Mayans, pins a live critter to one’s lapel. The leashed beetle then crawls about, evoking images of chained slaves or Princess Leia chained by Jabba the Hutt.

A travel writer wrote about this “pet concept” back in 1990. “I learned that the creature is called a “maquech” in the Maya language. The Indians catch them and decorate them in the belief that such a bejeweled insect worn over the heart will be a totem for the soul of a lost loved one. This maquech had been named I’xtabai after a famous Maya phantom that appears as a beautiful woman to seduce men to their doom in the depths of the jungle.”

The crackdown on the blinged beetles also goes as far back, under the U.S. Department of Agriculture laws against illegally importing plants and animals from other countries. That hasn’t stopped jewelry hounds from trying to pull a fast one at the border. An incident was reported earlier this year, but beetle-eyed inspectors recognized a pest when they saw one.