Maneki-Neko is a Japanese figurine used as a lucky charm. It is in the shape of a cat and is usually made of ceramic. The figurine is said to bring good luck to its owner. The statue – a calico Japanese Bobtail – looks like it is beckoning people to enter. Its paw is held upright. People place the maneki-neko at the entrance of shops, restaurants and even houses to greet their clients and guests. Nowadays, some of these figurines are made of plastic and are electric in order to make the paw move.
The most common color of the maneki-neko is white. However, the figurine can be found in other colors such as silver, gold, black and even red. Depending on which paw is raised, the figurine is said to either bring customers in ( left paw ) or good luck ( right paw ). A different interpretation says that one paw is for luck and the other is for wealth. However, depending on its type, the maneki-neko can have both its paws raised.
The origin of the figurine remains unknown. Some say it first appeared in Osaka, while others believe it is from Edo ( the current Tokyo ). It was first mentioned in a newspaper in 1876. There are several tales that try to shed some light over the origin of the maneki-neko. One of these folk tales says that a poor man, the owner of an inn, took in a stray cat although he could barely feed himself. As a thank you gift, the cat started standing outside the inn and beckoning people inside. Another tale says that an old woman from Tokyo was forced to sell her cat because she was too poor. The cat then appeared in her dreams and told her to make a cat figurine from clay and sell it. She then made more statues and people kept buying them. In the end the woman became very rich.
Do you think there is a grain of truth behind the stories surrounding the maneki-neko?
( Source: wikipedia )
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