Picture of the day: Handsome Chinese Uncle Naan becomes internet heartthrob

July 7, 2011Jing GaoOne Comment, , , , , , ,

From NetEase

Pictures of a street vendor in Ningbo, eastern Zhejiang province have circulated virally on Chinese internet. So far, altogether 50,000 strong microblog users shared the pictures from different sources. Because the mustachioed vendor sells naan, a round flatbread popular in most central Asian regions, netizens call him Uncle Naan.

On one of the pictures, he lies in a couch, looking at a ceiling with melancholy and thoughtful eyes. The microblog post that contains the pictures commented, “Uncle Naan has Donnie Yen’s figure, Takeshi Kaneshiro’s facial features, Tony Leung Chiu Wai’s sorrowful eyes…”

From left to right: Donnie Yen, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro

Zheng Chuan, 40, is an amateur photographer working at Ningbo Institute of Architectural Research and Design. One day when he was taking photographs of traditional architecture in Ningbo, he stumbled upon many young people working in Ningbo as migrant workers. He thought that while their living condition is tough, they have very upbeat personality. Since then, he has started to zoom in on them.

Uncle Naan is one of his subjects. A fellow shutterbug, on seeing the photo in the online photography club, felt it is a great shot, and posted the photo in his microblog on the afternoon of June 28.

To his surprise, by the time he woke up the next morning, the photo had been shared by over 6000 users.

It turns out that Uncle Naan, or Litahong in real life, is a 22-year-old Uighur young man who has just come to Ningbo from northwest Xinjiang Autonomous Region and does not speak much Chinese. The interview was conducted with the help of a Uighur girl studying in Ningbo.


When asked about why he has chosen to come to Ningbo and sell naan, Uncle Naan answered with a shy smile, “Ningbo is a coastal city with booming economy. I am still young. I want to come out and break a new path.”

His family back in Kashgar, Xinjiang has eight more people, including his parents, two little brothers and one elder brother, who has married and fathered kids. They live under the same roof.

Uncle Naan did not know how to make a naan before coming to Ningbo. He learned it from his fellow townsman here.

Now, he runs the naan stall on his own. The rent is 2,000 yuan (US$300) per month. The stall has been split into two parts. He makes and sells naan outside and sleeps inside.

He gets up at 2 a.m. and goes to bed at 11 p.m. On the luckiest days, he can sell as many as 200 of them. The monthly net profit amounts to 5,000 to 6,000 yuan ($760 to 920). He would remit most of them back home.

Litahong seems to have no idea that he has been an internet phenomenon and dubbed Uncle Naan. He said it must have been the mustache that earns him the title of Uncle.

“Now things are very good. I don’t feel it is very tough. I am very satisfied!” He disclosed that in August, his little brother will come and take over the naan stall whereas he will go home and get married.

“Then those female netizens who desire to visit you will be disillusioned,” Zheng Chuan the photographer joked.

On Sina Microblog, the buzz surrounding Uncle Naan shows no sign of subsiding.

猞猁猫:Uncle Naan turns a middle-aged man with Japanese feel, a smidgen of melancholy and yet fresh air in the vernal days…

银魂GINTAMA:Are criteria for selling flatbread so high? What am I going to do with my dream of getting a flatbread stall?

我是你认识的王小能:(He) looks a little Takeshi Kaneshiro with a little Yutaka Takenouchi…A naan stall as refreshing as Japanese films!

陆琪不露脐:I am floored within one second by the sorrowful eyes and sexy beard…I am going to the pancake store in Ningbo and buy the uncle.

洪水过后:Breathtakingly and yet unwittingly handsome, indeed.

小③:The look in the eye…The mustache…Ah…How I hope I could be in Ningbo! Then I would be eating naan every day!

arale:I am dying for the url of Uncle’s flatbread store on Taobao.com.

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