Young man keeps 500 cats in his house

Young man keeps 500 cats in his house

Tile cats are often seen on the roof of Yunnan people’s houses. Yunnan folks created tile cats and made them guardians standing at the roof to protect the yard and people. Putting such a cat on roof when move into new residents has been the tradition in many places of Yunnan for centuries.

In Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, there is a unique museum named Xinfang special for its collection of many tile cats. The owner of the museum is Zhang Hang, born in 1993, who has been dedicated in making tile cats since graduation. And now, he is an inheritor of this skill.

Zhang majored in ethnic and folk art and design in Yunnan Arts University. After graduating from 2016, he started to make tile cats. “Tile cats are of traditional figures but there is a lot of space to add new elements in. You can give full rein to your imagination in this simple stuff,” said Zhang.

Nowadays, many houses in villagers have undergone retrofit. So, tile cats are hardly seen. To find more tile cats, Zhang searched every corner of villages in Yunnan. He often takes photos and shoots videos of them. Sometimes, he even buys them home.

“Some of my cats were bought from the house owners and some are abandoned ones that I take them away directly,” said Zhang, “so, up to now, I have collected more than 500 cats.”

As an inheritor of this intangible cultural heritage, Zhang hopes tile cats can be favored by people outside Yunnan and even overseas. So, he started to add original creative ideas and popular elements into traditional tile cats making process.

Now, he not only offers tile cats-making-experience service in his workshop and the museum and teaches teenagers about the skill, but also goes back to the university to teach other students. Whenever there is cultural exhibition, he will bring his works there to show visitors this specialty of Yunnan.

“Tile cats are guardians of Yunnan families and I am the cats’ guardian,” added Zhang, “To protect the cats is to protect the culture. I’m determined to do this for my life.”

Source: Yunnan News; trans-editing by Wang Yunya