History of Maneki Neko
History of Maneki Neko - short and sweet!

      Maneki neko is believed to have existed in Japan around 1800 A.D. while the Samurai ruled in the Edo period. However, there is no documentation that survives from that period which confirms the story. It is not until the modern Meiji period (1870 A.D.) that we see the emergence of what we call Maneki Neko now.
      Marujimeneko was a popular figure around 1845 to 1870 in the ukiyoe-prints (Japanese woodblock prints) of Kuniyoshi Utagawa and Kuniyoshi Kitagawa. The latter, in particular, was a cat lover and portrayed many of them in his artwork. Most people believe that Marujimeneko was the ancestor of maneki neko even though it does not have the raised beckoning paw.
      It was not until 1870 that a recognisable maneki neko came into being along with historical documentation. The Sumiyoshi-taisha shrine in Osaka began giving out a kimono clad figure called Hattatsuneko at that time. Worshippers believed that their wishes would be fulfilled if they collected 48 Hattatsuneko within in a 4 year timespan. That's a lot of cats!
      The name "maneki neko" actually appeared in a newspaper article in September of 1876. This confirms their existance from that point on. By 1885, clay maneki nekos were being produced and has been documented by historians.
      With the advent of Christianity in Japan, some of the traditional symbols and statues for good luck were banned, thus paving the way for maneki neko to rise to the popularity it enjoys today.
Many thanks to the Maneki Neko Club for their research on the subject!
mmc



Fun facts about Maneki Neko!

      Left paw raised, right paw raised... What's it all mean? Here's a maneki neko guide that may help unscramble the mystery!
                  Left paw raised: invites visitors or in business, customers
                  Right paw raised: invites money and good fortune
                  Both paws raised: protects home or business
                  White neko: stands for goodness and purity
                  Black neko: wards off evil (growl, hissss!)
                  Tri-color or calico: luck, luck, luck (ask Katbeary about that...)
                  Pink or red neko: brings love and happiness (purrrs!)
                  Gold neko: invites wealth and prosperity
                  Neko with coin in paw: invites financial gain (hear that, day traders?)
                  Neko with fish in paw: another invitation to prosperity




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