Slough off the cicada’s golden shell

Beware: *Spoilers included below *

In Cambrian Period Ep 6,  Li Yong Ji, Officer Li mentions about Suo Tou sloughing off the cicada’s golden shell after Tang Yin was abducted. This is another classic tactic in the 36 stratagems for warfare. It’s a strategy used when the enemy is superior in strength to you. Like a cicada, (a type of insect) who sheds its brown dull shell to reveal a green creature with wings. Although it looks like the cicada before, but at the same time, it’s different. This tactic means to hide your distinguishing features so that you can do what you wish undetected by the enemy or to create an illusion for your enemy so that our true intentions will not be detected.

In this cases it was used by Li Yong Ji as he believed the real Lian Pu was Suo Tou. He knows that Suo Tou didn’t die in the fire at the end of Ep 5 and it was only a ruse to throw Zhan Shi Li off his scent so that he can carry out his plan more freely and easily.


One famous legend where this tactic was supposedly used was by Lu Bu who was a military leader in Ancient China. After he helped Yuan Shao to put down an uprising who was a warlord from that same period, Yuan Shao became suspicious of him, thinking he might rebel, therefore he sent soldiers to disguise as Lu Bu’s guards to assassinate him in his sleep. However, the crafty Lu Bu found out and got a friend to play the zither he played to buy him time to escape.

Modern Uses

  • People using body doubles to confuse possible assassins.
  • Criminals creating alibis so that they would have evidence that they were not present to commit the crimes

Here are 2 videos which use this tactic very well:

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