Maneki Neko Fortune cats are a common sight in a Chinese or Japanese shop or restaurant. It is a small cat figurine which is displayed near the cash register or entrance. Maneki Neko, or a fortune cat figurine, is considered to be a lucky charm that attracts good fortune to the owners. This feline figurine is deemed to be lucky and comes in various sizes and shapes. They are kept in homes, offices, restaurants, and shops. The Maneki Neko originated in Japan but is very popular in most Asian countries. Traders of money and gold usually keep them for good fortune. This cat statuette represents so much more than people know!
Where does Maneki Neko cat come from?
The exact origin story behind Maneki Neko is unknown, but the existence of these lucky cats is estimated to be from the Edo period in Japan around the 17th to 19th century. A Maneki Neko means a fortune cat, or beckoning cat in the Japanese language. The ornament is a calico cat with its paw raised in the air. In motorized versions, the cat waves its paw up and down and welcomes newcomers in front of shops.
Some legends about the origins of the Maneki Neko are popular as folklore. One story has it that a poor priest lived in a temple with a small cat. He was not getting enough food to eat. One stormy night, a wealthy man took refuge under a tree and found a cat nearby raising its paw. He was surprised by the act and followed the cat to the temple. The tree was struck by lightning, and the man was saved due to the cat. So, he was grateful and became a benefactor of the temple, in which a statue of the cat was later erected.
The Significance of the Raised Paw of Maneki Neko
The Maneki Neko keeps one of its paws holding up. There is a difference as to which paw is raised. The left paw is to attract customers, and the right paw is to bring good fortune and money. So, Maneki Neko with a raised left palm is kept in front of restaurants and stores to attract more customers.
In Feng Shui, a raised left paw attracts women, while a raised right paw attracts men. So, beauty salon owners typically keep a Maneki Neko with a raised left palm.
In some versions, Maneki Neko has bothcat paws in the air. Some believe that two paws in the air bring protection against negative forces. Or they want more customers, along with good fortune and money!
The significance of Maneki Neko’s Colors
Maneki Neko is generally white in color, with black and orange spots. But the lucky cat figurine is also available in other color combinations. These color combinations also have different meanings. For instance:
• The Calico color is considered to be the luckiest
• White signifies happiness, prosperity, and purity
• Gold color denotes money and prosperity
• The black color is used to protect against evil entities
• Red color wards off evil and diseases
• Pink signifies love and relationships
• Green indicates good health
The significance of Maneki Neko’s dressing and possessions
The Maneki Neko figurine is dressed in a bell, bib, and collar. This comes from the Edo period when wealthy people dressed their pets in matching cultural clothes. A bell was tied to the cat’s collar to keep track of the pet. The Maneki Neko figurines can be seen holding a few things in their paws, which include:
• A koban, which is a Japanese coin from the Edo period. It was considered to be worth a fortune in those times.
• A Money mallet which signifies wealth.
• A fish which is the symbol of good fortune.
• A marble or gem which is considered as the magnet for money.
• Crystal ball which denotes wisdom.
• Gourds, prayer tablets, or ingots, which signify wealth and good fortune.
Would you place a Maneki Neko Fortune Cat in your home or in front of your shop for good fortune? Which paw would you have raised? Let us know in your comments below!