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Eternal protector of Lijiang: tile cats

By : China Daily | Published: 2016-November-23

[InKunming--Yunnan] One can very easily miss the small cat-shaped items on rooftops when passing by hundreds of much more giant, eye-catching features on Chinese traditional buildings in Lijiang.

But it is such small items on Yunnan dwellings that residents revere so much. Every time they build a house they buy one, wrap it in red cloth and carry it home. They even wait for a lucky day before attaching it to their roof.

Tile cats are far more than roof ornaments. They are stone sculptures much like the lions and dragons placed in front of nearly every ancient Chinese building to drive away "evil spirits".

Lijiang, in particular, favors the cat, usually a cuddly animal, as its guardian.

Lijiang tile cats have exaggerated big mouths to attract good fortune to their owners. [Photo/yunnan.cn]

"People think that tile cats will absorb money for their owners as they have big mouths and empty stomachs," said Yang Jinshan, a researcher of Naxi ethnic group culture.

"Tile cats are now made in a more exaggerated shape with much wider mouths than before," said Yang Jinshan.

Tile cats prey on good luck for Lijiang people. [Photo/yunnan.cn]

He added that no two cats are the same as they are made according to the preference of the makers and owners.

Lijiang tile cats have also become tourist souvenirs and visitors can buy them in many stores in the city’s Old Town.

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