the beckoning cats — things 001

My fascination towards maneki neko, the beckoning cat, or also known as the 'lucky cat' started as far back as I can remember. 
They're all always so different! Some cute, some just looking nonchalant. 
I like the notion of things with meanings, instead of calling myself superstitious. 
Tribal customs, traditions, the legends behind most Asian cultures, or figurines, or architectures, even food. 
There's so much to it all than meets the eye.

Let me start off here by saying I'm in no way an expert of maneki nekos or what they mean or the legends behind them, but this is a short compilation of what i found around the net\hearsay over the years. 
It's just so much fun to read or to know about, for me, at least. 
I've had trouble in confirming the origin of maneki neko, the only thing I could say for sure is that these were first seen sometime in the late Edo period.

lucky cats ornaments sold in a Lunar New Year decoration store. these are huge, each about the size of a small cooking pan?

lucky cats ornaments sold in a Lunar New Year decoration store. these are huge, each about the size of a small cooking pan?

a lucky cat near the cash register at Barrack's Cafe, Cameron Highlands

a lucky cat near the cash register at Barrack's Cafe, Cameron Highlands

To those unfamiliar with it, the maneki neko is a Japanese whimsical cat figurine. It's a lucky charm that is believed to invite happiness + bring good luck to its owner. 
Here in Malaysia, it's always found sitting near the entrances of Chinese business premises. 
Now that the Lunar New Year is approaching, we see them everywhere! 
As with gesture + ornamental variations, colors too are symbolic, with each color associated with a different form of luck. 


Lucky cats are often made of ceramic, but more luxurious are the ones made of jade or gold. 
These days they're also imprinted onto all sorts of decor, even phone casings. So of course, one of my phone casing has a maneki neko on it, with its right paw raised. 
It's holding 'koinobori', or carp windsocks, traditionally used to decorate the landscape of Japan from April through early May, in honor of Children's Day. In Japanese culture, the carp symbolizes courage + strength because of its ability to swim up a waterfall.

a phone casing i'm using these days, it has such a bright red color. love it! please ignore my striving plants, keeping them alive is such a challenge..

a phone casing i'm using these days, it has such a bright red color. love it! please ignore my striving plants, keeping them alive is such a challenge..

On my desk at work, I've got a lucky cat painted in black with both paws up, its neck adorned with a bell, holding up what seems to be a coin on its left hand. 
It makes me smile everytime i look at it. 
A maneki neko in black is believed to provide protection against evil. This one is made of ceramic with an elegant vibe to it, it's also chubby! 

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Another one is sitting on our bookshelf at home, it's cheery, sky blue in color. It also has both its paws up in the air, with a coin on its left paw. A blue maneki neko represent intelligence, wisdom + success. 
I guess it's only appropriate this one sits between the books ;)

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which paw the cat is holding up has different meanings. if If it’s the left paw, it's supposed to attract customers (good vibes!). If the right paw is raised, this invites good fortune + money. 
If one has both of its paws in the air, this could mean both of the above or it can also represent protection.

the figurines are also often holding things in their paws. or sitting on something (usually a red pillow\cloth) Our two little figurines seem to be holding coins, those represent fortune; a koban (coin) worth one ryo; a Japanese gold coin from the Edo period; a ryo was considered to be quite a fortune back then. 
Lucky cats can also be found holding gourds, money mallet, a fish, daikon radishes, ingots, etc. Each items represent different meanings.

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Here's a set of hanging ornaments with lucky cats on them, both holding their paws up. 
These are about the size of half my palm. 
They're great addition to our home decoration this Lunar New Year. I've hung them near the tv set where we can see them from the sofa. If i'm not wrong, the one above has the Japanese kanji characters 'sho-huku' on it's belly, which means happiness.


With so much variations out there, imagine my excitement each time I see a maneki neko in the stores. We've only bought very well-made + sturdy ones, so i'm stoked with our growing collection. We're starting this series for our favorite things at home. As quite avid collectors of happy things, it would be fun to share them here~ Hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I did writing it!

 

 

 

Eight Shoresmaneki neko, things