Manekineko 招き猫 (Winking Cat)
Manekineko [招き猫/まねきねこ] is a Japanese popular lucky charm item. In English “Lucky Fortune Cat”.
Their look originates from the race “Japanese bobtail” and they are very famous not only in Japan, but also in China, Thailand or Taiwan.
Ordinary “manekineko” is made by pottery. For example there are many depictions of Maneki-nekos at shrines, and also you can see many shops or restaurants in Japan. The reason of which they are in many stores is that they are supposedly luring customers with their happy winking into the store and bless them which they buy things or fulfill duties.
The origin of “manekineko” is unclear, so there are many opinions in history.
There are many types in “manekineko” but there are some common features.
1. A necklace: Most “manekineko” is wearing necklace. Especially, the bell is the most common accessory to tell where they are.
2. Gold coin: “Manekineko” has gold coin. There are “manekineko” which has gold coin used in Edo period(1603-1868).
There is a saying in japan which corresponds to the english “pearls before swines” which is “小判に猫” (Koban ni neko)
3. Carp: Carp is the symbol of wealth and the prosperity.
4. Mallet of luck: It is called “Uchide no Kozue”(打ち出の小槌) in Japanese. This is the magical hammer, which said that the
thing which you want comes out if you wave it. This is the tool of “Daikokuten” , who is the member of “Shichifukujin“.
5. Wallet: The symbol of wealth and lucky.
6. Fan and Dram: The symbol of thriving business.
7. Gourd: This is the tool of “Fukurokuju” , who is the member of “Shichifukujin”. The symbol of happiness, wealth and longevity.
Picture: “Uchide no Kozue”
There are three gestures in “manekineko”.
1. Right-hand raised: Invite economic fortune.
2. Left-hand raised: Invite marriage.
3. Both-hand raised: Keep out of harm’s way.