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The Cat House of Riga

In Riga, the capital of Latvia, there's a house with cat sculptures on top, as if they were guarding the building. While the Art Nouveau house is now a landmark, its history may be surprising. For some reason, the man who owned the house, built in 1909, was refused membership in the local tradesman's guild, called the Great Guild.  

He happened to own the building across the way from the Guild. So, he ordered two sculptures of black cats made and placed on the roof of his building (Kaķu nams in Latvian). Not only that but he ordered that they should be turned away from the Guild, backside up.

Today it may not seem much of a retort, visual or otherwise. Back then, a pair of black cats showing their posteriors to the parish principals was a public gesture of defiance, distaste and damnification. This feline feud was serious. Put the message in to your own contemporary words.  You got it.

The gesture enraged the members of the Great Guild, and a battle ensued. Read how that turned out, and see plenty of images of the Cat House at Kuriositas.

(Image credit: Flickr user Yusuke Kawasaki)


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