Maneki Neko is the famous Japanese lucky cat.
Maneki NekoThe cat statue is easily recognizable as the cat will be holding one paw up. It looks like a waving cat.
Actually “Maneki” is the Japanese work for beckoning and “neko” means cat in Japanese.
The Maneki Neko is thought to bring good fortune and wealth to its owner.
This feline is considered very lucky. Anyone seeking success is sure to have a statue of this cat.
Legend of the origin Maneki-neko
Regarding the origin of a cat with a raised leg, there are many different legends. All are stories related to Japanese history.
The priest’s cat saved a man’s life
Once upon a time a wealthy gentleman rode with a squad of samurai on state affairs. He drove past the temple of Gotoku-ji, in those times experiencing difficulties with cash. It was a heavy downpour. The lord, or as it was at that time was called daimyo, hid from the rain under a spreading tree. Suddenly he noticed a cat that belonged to a priest from the temple. The animal waved its foot, as if urging the daimyo to follow him. The gentleman was very surprised – the gates were old and invisible in dense thickets. If there were no four-legged savior, no one would have paid attention to the entrance to the temple. Daimyo came out from under the tree, walked a few steps, when suddenly a lightning bolt hit his cover.
Cat of courtesan
The western part of Tokyo at the beginning of the 17th century had a large number of brothels, which stood along the road. The courtesans in those days were called yuo, and the most skilled of them were called tayu.
A tayu named Usugumo felt a great affection for her cats, so these animals surrounded her everywhere.
Favorite cat one night did not allow her to leave the house, clinging to clothes. The guard, having noticed it, ran up and in a flash cut off the animal’s head. The head flew up, grabbing a snake with its teeth and killing it. Due to the fact that Usugumo was very fond of cats, the predator saved the mistress’s life.
Usugumo was very sad for her cat. In order to allay her sadness, one of the regular visitors presented a figurine of a cat, which became the prototype of the famous today Maneki-neko.
The story of the cat from Imado
One poor old woman from Imado, who is in the eastern part of Tokyo, was left alone in her old age. She was forced to sell her pet cat to earn a little money for food. But the funds over time ended, and the old woman was in a quandary.
One night she dreamed of her cat. He spoke to her: “Go make a figure similar to me, and sell it to people.” The old woman listened and began to make figures from different materials. People liked her figurines, they were quickly dismantled. Thus, an elderly woman was able to raise money and provide herself for the remaining years.
And the figures made by her hands acquired the aura of good luck and well-being talisman, becoming known to us as Maneki Neko.
The meaning of Maneki-neko
Some sources claim that the symbol appeared rather prosaically – the kitty with its raised leg symbolized a courtesan who was attracted to merry quarters. Theoretically, in ancient times, the authorities forbade the use of a special symbol, and to circumvent this law, the courtesans invented the Maneki-neko sign.
Why is Maneki-neko raised paw
The symbol of Maneki-neko can be found in different interpretations, and each of them has its own meaning. There are three options:
- A cat with a raised left paw – a symbol of calling people, the desire to communicate;
- Raised right foot – Maneki-neko calls good luck and cash flow into the house;
- If the cat has both front paws raised, it attracts both people and material wealth.
There is a theory that the height of the raised foot affects the ability of Maneki-Neko to perform its task – the higher it is located, the better it attracts the necessary energy.