Four cat paw-shaped gold ornaments, currently on display in a museum in north China's Shanxi Province, have become the latest sensation on Chinese social media.
The ornaments, believed by experts to date back some 2,700 years, quickly stole the hearts of Chinese netizens with their adorable appearance -- one metacarpal pad and four toes as seen on the back paws of domestic cats -- after pictures and videos surfaced on the internet.
They are from a collection of five similarly shaped ornaments unearthed last year from a Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 B.C.) tomb in the Beibai'e cemetery site in Shanxi's Yuanqu County, said Yang Jiyun, a researcher from the Shanxi provincial institute of archaeology and leader of the site's excavation project.
The ornaments were found at the waist of the male tomb owner's body, leading archaeologists to conjecture that they could have been decorations on the owner's waistband.
While some netizens said the ornaments were proof of "China's age-old cat-loving tradition," experts have yet to confirm whether the artifacts were really based on the felines.
Yang said that researchers are also working to determine the gold content of the ornaments.
The Beibai'e cemetery site is home to a cluster of Zhou Dynasty tombs. Excavation from April to December last year led to the discovery of more than 500 artifacts, including pottery, jade ware and bronze ware, from nine tombs within the site.