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Tile cats transformed from traditional mascots to modern decorations

Updated:2021-06-24 08:50:08   

Tile cat (Wamao) is the animal tile decoration on the eaves of traditional Chinese houses. Although the tile cat has the name of "cat", it just looks like a cat but boasts the "air" of a tiger. It is considered to be the "divine beast" to guard the house and ward off evil spirits.

The folk custom has been widely spread in Kunming, Dali and other places in Yunnan province. The tile cats are very particular, usually placed on the roof ridge, cornices or door head.

As time goes by, the modern buildings have replaced traditional houses. The tile cat has become the cultural heritage and many art craftsmen try to store the custom.

Zhang Cai (48 years old) is one of the few carpenters who have been making tile cats for 30 years. As the inheritor of this important cultural heritage, he makes all kinds of Wamao in his workshop and has created new styles to cater for the young people's tastes in modern times.

In Yunnan Ethnic Museum, employee Wu Songyi has collected more than 300 Wamao in recent years. These treasures were saved by her and her husband when the old houses were torn down in many places throughout Yunnan.

According to her study over the years, she has documented the differences in Wamao from different places. The reason why she likes to collect Wamao is that she used to live in a traditional house and hopes to save the old memories.

Here, she stacks all the Wamao on a tall wooden shelf. They have many different looks: big, small, cute, smiling, naughty or fierce. They have gained huge popularity among young people.

Reporting by Yan Yong (Xinhua Net); Trans-editing by Mo Yingyi 

Keywords:   Tile cats mascots decorations