Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jiminy Crickets!

No, it’s not what we would think of as a typical pet. But, in China, with a population of over 1.3 billion people, understandably, space is an issue. Even with the one-child policy, elbow room—especially in cities-- is simply not available.  Enter, the cricket.

Since the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese have kept crickets as pets, for both their singing ability and for fighting. For more than 2,000 years, the Chinese have listened to the songs of these insects and written about them.
The various tones of different species are highly prized.  Prices vary based on rarity. Crickets are carried in the pocket, housed in cricket quarters.

Many cricket-keeping accessories surround the care and feeding of these insects. Some are kept in teapots. Others are housed in expensive ceramic cylinders molded with auspicious symbols to help bring victory in a cricket match. After being goaded with a feathery wand or a rat’s whisker, the first cricket to roll onto its back, or run away, loses the fight..

Today, in China, keeping crickets is a pastime well-suited in scale to the small living spaces of most ordinary Chinese and there’s a strong market for the myriad accessories that go with cricket-keeping. These include miniature feeding bowls, tools for catching crickets, for transporting them, and for goading them to fight—all available alongside spoons with which to feed them, and ornate cages made from carved gourds, bamboo, sandalwood and even silver.

What a different perspective on keeping a pet, don’t you think?

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Elora! Just catching up on your posts after being mostly offline (because of houseguests). This is so interesting about the crickets. I knew that the Chinese kept crickets as pets, but I'd never thought about there being cricket feeding bowls. After reading your post, I started wondering how the pet crickets drank, so I Googled it and found that they drink from absorbent little water pillows. Fascinating! Thanks so much for your wonderful, thoughtful, and informative posts.