We uncovered 119 accounts from 60 cultures in 24 countries; of these cultures 62% had only positive values, 8% had only neutral values, while 10% had only negative values. The remaining had combinations of positive, neutral, and negative values.
For example, Chinese perceive bats as good luck symbols, based on homonyms of the words for bat 蝠 (fú) and blessing 福 (fú). Decorative bat motifs can be found in traditional Chinese architecture, textiles, and pottery throughout the Asia-Pacific.
From India, worshippers of Laxmi in Bihar believe that flying foxes help bring them wealth. In Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu, devotees of Kali revere bats as guardians of sacred groves, and offer fruit to the bats, as seen in this illustration by Barkha Lohia.
These fascinating representations contrast sharply with the oft-negative perceptions of bats dominating pop culture today. It just goes to show that positive perceptions of bats are not isolated or unique! Read more examples from our paper, and remember to celebrate bats!
Have a listen to Mary-Ruth and second author Cyren Wong Zhi Hoong talk on BFM 89.9 about the research we did for this paper: https://www.bfm.my/podcast/the-bigger-picture/earth-matters/bats-bane-or-blessing