Maneki-neko – A Japanese “beckoning cat” Lucky Cat Figurine
This lucky cat figurine is a popular lucky charm in Japan.
The maneki-neko (Japanese: meaning “beckoning cat”) is a common Japanese figurine. It is a lucky charm, a talisman. This figurine is believed to bring good luck to the owner.
Nowadays they are usually made of ceramic or plastic. The figurine depicts a cat, traditionally a calico Japanese Bobtail cat.
Although the Beckoning Cat originated in Japan, it has also become a popular good luck symbol in Chinese businesses. In Chinese businesses, gold beckoning cats seem to be especially popular.
That’s probably because gold is being associated with wealth and prosperity of the business.
The cat is beckoning with an upright paw. Usually you will find the maneki-neko cat displayed often at the entrance of restaurants, shops and pachinko parlors. They’re also common in stores and anywhere where bringing in people means bringing in money.
The Legend of Maneki Neko | Must Love Cats
by Animal Planet
Published on Youtube on Feb 29, 2012
Find out why the Maneki Neko is the most famous cat in all of Japan.
Some of the sculptures are electric or battery-powered and have a slow-moving paw beckoning visitors in. You can also find Maneki-Neko that are solar powered.
How does the Maneki-neko Cat Look?
As mentioned above the cat is beckoning with an upright paw. It can be the left paw or right paw that’s upright. Sometimes both paws are raised.
According to Lucky Cat – Maneki Neko
Today, 70% of lucky cats sold have both paws raised (to beckon both customers and money), 20% have the right paw raised (money) and 10% have the left paw raised (customers).
Maneki-neko comes in different colors, styles and degrees of ornateness.Common colors are white, black, gold and sometimes red. In addition to ceramic figurines, maneki-neko can be found as keychains, piggy banks, air fresheners and house-plant pots.
You may also find them as miscellaneous ornaments, as well as large statues.
Sometimes they are called “Chinese lucky cat” because of its popularity among Chinese merchants.
Some maneki-neko cats have battery or solar-powered moving arms. The arms are endlessly moving in a beckoning gesture.
You can sometimes see antique maneki-neko. They may be made of carved wood, metal, stone, cast iron or handmade porcelain.
Is there any significance which paw is raised?
The stray cat and the shop: The operator of an impoverished shop (or inn, tavern, temple, etc.) takes in a starving, stray cat despite barely having enough to feed himself. In gratitude, the cat sits in the front of the store beckoning customers, thus bringing prosperity as a reward to the charitable proprietor.
Ever since then, the “beckoning cat” has been a symbol of good luck for small business owners. It can be found with either the right or left paw raised. Sometimes both paws are raised. Which paw is raised is significant.
It differs with time and place. There is a general rule of thumb regarding the paws.
A statue with the left paw raised is meant to be displayed in drinking establishments. The one with the right paw raised for all other places of business.
There is another interpretation; that the right paw raised is for home and left paw for business.
Published on Youtube on Apr 21, 2016
Sometimes you will see the maneki-neko holding a coin in its paw. This coin is called koban. It was popular during the Edo epoch and was worth 1000 dollars. The coin is what allows Maneki Neko to attract good luck and wealth.
Do this Lucky Cat’s colors have a particular meaning?
It is very common to see a white Maneki Neko with orange and black spots. However, there are a few other color variations. Each color combination has a special meaning.
White: Happiness, purity, and positive things to come
Calico: Traditional color combination, considered to be the luckiest
Red or Pink(a more modern color): Success in love and relationships
Green: Good health
Gold: Wealth and prosperity
Black: Wards off evil spirits
Maneki-neko in Folktales and Popular Culture
It is unknown as to how the first Maneki Neko came to be. However, many agree that lucky cats first started appearing in Japan during the 17th century to mid-19th century.This is considered the Edo period(1603-1867).
There is a popular Japanese folktale about the naneki-neko. Its The stray cat and the shop: The operator of an impoverished shop (or inn, tavern, temple, business, etc.) takes in a starving, stray cat despite barely having enough to feed himself.
In gratitude, the cat sits in the front of the store beckoning customers. The cat and its gesture thus bringing prosperity as a reward to the charitable proprietor.
Since then the “beckoning cat” has been a symbol of good luck for small business owners.
Another legend, according to Tofugu
tells of an old woman and her pet cat. The old woman was very poor and, without any daimyos around to save from lightning, was forced to sell her cat. The cat later comes to her in a dream and instructs her to create a clay model of it. The old woman follows the cat’s slightly egotistical advice, and finds that someone wants to buy it. She creates more statues, which become extremely popular, turning her cats into cash. And, for the third time this article, the tradition of maneki neko was born.
Published on Youtube on Feb 4, 2018
A funny little interpretation of the legends surrounding the Maneki- neko, the japanese lucky cat. The film is animated by me for a college project.
Even today, modern Japanese folklore suggests keeping a talisman of good fortune, such as the maneki-neko, in bedrooms and places of study will bring about favorable results and life successes.
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