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Maneki-neko, The Beckoning Cat

Maneki-neko, The Beckoning Cat

Oil on panel
16” round, unframed
 

It’s origins rooted deep in Japanese folklore, the maneki-neko, also known as the welcoming cat, lucky cat, money cat, happy cat, and beckoning cat, is a figurine believed to bring good fortune. Often made of ceramic, the friendly statuette sits with one arm waving, and the other holding a koban coin (which reads 10 million gold pieces). There are many stories that surround this iconic lucky charm. Here are a just a couple:

 

“According to folklore, a poor, 17th-century monk lived in the small Gōtoku-ji temple in Setagaya, Tokyo with his pet bobtail cat. They lived a quiet life, until one day a lord samurai, Ii Naotaka of the Hikone Domain, visited the area. While he was on his way to hunt, a huge storm erupted, and the lord took shelter under a tree outside the temple. While there, he noticed the monk’s cat with one paw up, appearing as though he was waving to him to come inside the temple. As he moved towards the cat, a lightning bolt struck the tree where he had just been standing. Naotaka was so grateful to the cat for saving his life, that he became the patron of the temple. He helped to repair it and make more space for the poor monk. When the cat died, a statue of maneki-neko was made to commemorate its life, and the location continues to be considered sacred today.” 

 

Alternatively…

 

“The operator of an impoverished shop took in a starving stray cat despite barely having enough to feed himself. In gratitude, the cat sat in the front of the store beckoning customers, thus bringing prosperity as a reward to the charitable proprietor.”

 

Regardless of what you may believe, once you love a cat, and it loves you back, you are forever charmed.

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