Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cricket Fighting

I stumbled across this scene recently.  Men huddled over rows of tables with white round containers.  They looked like sterno tins, but I strained to look over them and they all contained crickets.  In ancient times, crickets were kept as pets and they were thought to bring good luck.  They would keep them in bamboo cages, and feed them apples with honey supposedly to help them sing sweetly.  But these crickets were being sold and traded for fighting.  The traditional time for this sport is around the late Autumn festival, coming up in a few weeks.

 I asked around, and was told that this is an "Old-Fashioned" pastime, mostly by people in the country. Locals catch crickets, and bring them into town to raise money.  Some will even try to breed them, and sell the smaller babies as pets.  The crickets fight and people bet on the fights.

this cricket is eating a leg
The crickets that bring the most money should have long antennae and longer harder shells.  The "handler" will take a long thin reed of straw and mess with the crickets antennae, and that's supposed to make it angry and want to fight.  Then they put two crickets in a container with a grain of rice or kernel of corn.  They fight each other over the food, and the loser is the one that starts to run away or tries to jump out of the container.  The handler will also keep weak crickets and tear off the legs to feed the winner.  This is to give the cricket the "taste of victory", and extra protein.  Really gross.
   There are ancient paintings of families with crickets, and the children's job is to use the thin stick to  tickle their antennae.  They would also tie the crickets to a string and fling it around like a kite.  The idea is to make the cricket feel like it is flying away, but really your just pissing it off.  So the madder the cricket is, the better he is at fighting.  Somewhere there is a cricket plotting revenge.

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