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a Japanese icon: maneki neko, a kitty

A 'Happy Cat' on Peter's kimono at Ten Thousand Waves Spa, Santa Fe, NM

Maneki Neko on Peter's kimono at Ten Thousand Waves Spa, Santa Fe, NM

The Maneki Neko (“Beckoning Cat”; also known as Welcoming Cat, Lucky Cat, Money Cat, or Fortune Cat) is a common Japanese sculpture, often made of ceramic, which is believed to bring good luck to the owner.  The sculpture depicts a cat (traditionally a Japanese Bobtail) beckoning with an upright paw, and is usually displayed—many times at the entrance—in shops, restaurants, and other businesses.  Some of the sculptures are electric or battery-powered and have a slow-moving paw beckoning. I n the design of the sculptures, a raised right paw supposedly attracts money, while a raised left paw attracts customers.

To Westerners it may seem as if the Maneki Neko is waving rather than beckoning.  This is due to the difference in gestures and body language recognized by Westerners and the Japanese, with Japanese beckoning by holding up the hand, palm out, and repeatedly folding the fingers down and back up, thus the cat’s appearance.

While it is believed that Maneki Neko first appeared during the later part of the Edo period (1603-1867) in Japan the earliest documentary evidence comes from the 1870s, during Japan’s Meiji Era.  It is mentioned in a newspaper article in 1876 and there is evidence kimono-clad Maneki Neko were distributed at a shrine in Osaka during this time. 

Black Lacquer Zen Alarm Clock

Black Lacquer Zen Alarm Clock

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